Text – Ray Parish
Photography – Sébastien Martinon
Founded in 1967, the Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) is a French voluntary organization tasked with saving lives at sea wherever French soil meets the water, including overseas departments and territories. In an average year, the SNSM saves thousands of lives and assists thousands of boats in distress. Given St. Barth’s particular location along the path of frequently powerful and sometimes unpredictable storms and hurricanes, the SNSM plays a vital role in security of the people of this island.
Under the leadership of the president of the organization’s St. Barth chapter, Ingénu Magras, the SNSM maintains a constant state of readiness through regular drills and activities. A highly trained crew mans the Capitaine Danet, SNS 269, the pride of the St. Barth SNSM. The 10-meter, unsinkable Motor Life Boat is designed to be self-righting in the event of capsizing in heavy seas. It can attain a top speed of 24 knots, and is fully equipped with all the radio and radar equipment necessary to locate ships in distress and come to the aid of sailors in danger.