Used Pontoon Boats bringing you news and views from the boating industry. The winds were howling at 35 knots when the call came over the radio from a sailor off the Santa Barbara coast whose engines had died and sails were torn. He needed help — now.
Channel Watch Marine - Pontoon Rescue Boat
The folks from Channel Watch Marine were dispatched from Ventura Harbor to assist the disabled boat and tow it to shore. But this time, there was an extra passenger aboard the small but powerful pontoon rescue boat.
Mike Crawford was on board recording every minute of the boat cutting through the pounding waves, capturing the scene of tying up the disabled boat, documenting the long tow home and, finally, filming the sailor talking about the ordeal and how he was ready for a beer.
A few days and many hours of editing later, the entire rescue was online, complete with hard-driving guitar riffs, quick edits and the name of a new production company beneath every shot: OceanRescue.TV.
Crawford, along with a friend and the owners of Channel Watch Marine, started shooting many of the ocean rescues the company does nearly every day and has launched a Web site capturing the drama.
Channel Watch Marine Ocean Rescue
"Watching the news, you see lots of attention when some kind of ocean rescue occurs," said Paul Amaral, who owns Channel Watch Marine with his wife, Beverly. "We can provide the footage from the rescue itself."
The idea for http://www.oceanrescue.tv was born in the Ventura boatyard when Crawford and friend Brent Thompson were fixing up a sailboat. The two had circumnavigated the globe together, selling footage from their adventures. Beverly Amaral struck up a conversation with the two and began talking about the work Channel Watch Marine does and the drama of towing dead whales or boats in the high seas.
Channel Watch Marine - documenting the rescues
They soon came up with the idea of documenting the rescues. Crawford and Thompson, who lived in San Diego, sailed their boat to Ventura and now live aboard it so they can be nearby when the next rescue call goes out.
Jason Davis, one of the company's captains, built the Web site where the "episodes" are posted. They hope to not only draw attention to their Web site, but also maybe get picked up by a network looking for the next great reality TV show.
Filming ocean rescues is challenging
Filming the rescue work proved to be challenging. The small rescue boats cut through seas at speeds of up to 50 mph, making for long, bumpy rides. The boat is equipped with a captain's seat that has a hydraulic spring to cushion the bumps, but Crawford or Thompson have to cram themselves into a corner with a stadium cushion as their only comfort. And then there is the issue of protecting the expensive cameras from the punishing salt water. "My biggest fear is if I go in the water, what happens to my camera?" said Crawford.
A few of the small cameras haven't survived the journeys.
So far, seven episodes have been posted on the Web, and more are on the way. There is one about a man whose engine died, another about towing a dead blue whale off a Ventura beach and another about a boat that washed ashore and had to be towed off.
They are hoping to expand how they film the rescues, putting more cameras on the boats, having the captain wear one, and even putting one on his head as he swims out to boats or whales to hook them up for tows.
Plenty of Adventure and Suspense at Sea
They don't want to go the route of "Cops" and create drama where there isn't any, Amaral said. There is enough adventure and suspense when someone is bobbing at sea with waves crashing aboard, he said. People have been open to being filmed so far, and everyone who appears on camera signs a waiver.
The videos are spreading around the Internet, and the site has received about 5,000 hits since it launched a few months ago. Amaral is hoping he can sell insurance and other advertisements that would be embedded into the videos. On the Net: http://www.oceanrescue.tv
Thanks to Zeke Barlow, venturacountystar.com for this.
Used Pontoon Boats, By Rick Ostler
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