Sailor for a day, perfect break from studies

A/SLt Matthew Heim of HMCS Malahat shows Sara Geday how to “drive” a 33-metre Orca-class vessel.

A/SLt Matthew Heim of HMCS Malahat shows Sara Geday how to “drive” a 33-metre Orca-class vessel.

Ten women and men joined naval reservists from HMCS Malahat for a morning at sea and an afternoon of firefighting, experiencing for themselves a day in the life of a sailor.

Participants were mostly University of Victoria students, which had its reading break Nov. 9 to 13. The Sailor for a Day event was for those who wanted to experience what the Naval Reserve offers as part-time employment.

“Participants were very interested in the Naval Reserve’s educational reimbursement for post-secondary education, competitive wages and benefits, leadership and professional development opportunities – all as a part-time career,” said Petty Officer Second Class Class Beth-Anne Salzer, one of Malahat’s recruiters.

The day kicked off at Malahat in James Bay, and then the 10 guests were off to Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard in Esquimalt to embark in PCT Wolf, a 33-metre Orca-class patrol vessel from the Patrol Craft Training Unit.

The weather was co-operative, with calm seas and no precipitation. The guests saw for themselves how a trained crew manages typical shipboard emergencies such as a person overboard drill and a steering gear breakdown.

One of the highlights was learning to throw a heaving line, which resulted in a friendly competition amongst the guests.

They also enjoyed the opportunity to take the helm, and under close supervision experienced driving the ship through many helm orders and engine revolution changes.

After returning to HMC Dockyard and brushing the newly-earned salt from their shoulders, the guests were then off to the Damage Control Training Facility Galiano in Colwood, where they spent the afternoon learning about firefighting onboard RCN vessels, handling firefighting equipment and experiencing a controlled fire.

As a bonus, the group had the opportunity to witness an advanced team of sailors attack a helicopter fire – an exciting first impression for all.

“The Sailor for a Day program allows those interested in the Canadian Naval Reserve to ‘test the waters,’ while learning beneficial life and emergency response skills,” said LCdr Michael Lawless, Commanding Officer, Malahat. “Although participants were under no obligation to apply for enrolment into the RCN, I was very pleased to hear that half intended to apply immediately.”

“My thanks to the Patrol Craft Training Unit and Damage Control Training Facility Galiano for their excellent support,” added LCdr Lawless.

Malahat is one of the RCN’s 24 “stone frigates” located in major cities coast to coast. The land-based divisions are well-equipped training facilities, with classrooms, office space, galleys (kitchens), boatsheds, and operation rooms with computer-based navigation simulators, small boats and dive equipment. Naval reservists typically serve part-time during evenings and weekends throughout the year, learning and refreshing skills and knowledge within the military occupation of their choice.

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