Thank Goodness for Lifeboats!

Your correspondent is a regular sea sailor to the west of Helsinki where strong winds and rough seas are common. This time of the year we also have thick sea fog when visibility is reduced to just a few meters…

… and there are plenty of those idiots in powerful nouveau-riche boats who recklessly ride the waves without caring about us proletariats in our smaller “Buster” boats.


The Finnish Sea Rescue Association has just had their annual jamboree in Helsinki where some 20 lifeboats from around Helsinki Region presented their boats to large crowds of onlookers at the harbour facing our main market square in Helsinki.

Their steel boats have powerful diesel engines for rescue operation in the heaviest storm-driven seas. They are all equipped with radars and the best communication systems to ensure the safety of the crews and those rescued. They have over 130 boats with 3 to 5 boats being renewed or renovated each year.

The Association is financed with membership fees, public grants, the State Lottery and private donors.  It is the central organization of sea and lake rescue associations founded in 1897, whose activities are based on volunteer rescuers. Their main task is to help those in distress on the coast and inland waters, but they also work to improve boating safety by sharing information and seeking to influence attitudes.

Finland is a sea-faring nation surrounded by the Baltic Sea and with thousands of lakes throughout the whole country. People use boats more than most other European countries because of our large expanses of water, and the short warm summers of 3 months and freezing winters 6 to 7 months provide opportunities for fate to wreak havoc with even the most cautious sailors!

Voluntary maritime rescue is an important part of Finland’s national rescue service. Every year, their crews help more than 3000 people, about 20 of whom will be saved from imminent death. The great majority of those saved are recreational boaters whose journey is interrupted by a technical failure or a lack of seafaring skills. The 24-hour on-call duty volunteers commit more than 730 man-years each year.



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