Virginia Windover poses in front of the Coast Guard hovercraft Moytel as Francia Heatcoat snaps a photo Tuesday morning at the old hovercraft pad on Parksville Beach.

Hovercraft slides in for a visit at Parksville Beach

Coast Guard vessel was part of Exercise Coastal Response 2016

Walkers and joggers enjoying the Parksville boardwalk Tuesday morning got a bonus on their outing when the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Moytel made an unexpected landing at the long-disused hovercraft pad at the end of Community Park.

The ship, stationed at the Sea Island hovercraft base in Richmond, was serving a support role in Exercise Coastal Response 2016, a massive, days-long earthquake and tsunami response exercise taking place this week in Port Alberni. The Moytel arrived in Parksville to deliver the Heavy Urban Response van and crew, which then continued to Alberni via Highway 4.

After dropping off the HUR team and equipment, with the assistance of members of the French Creek Coast Guard station, the hovercraft remained at the end of the ramp for more than an hour as passersby took photos and were invited on impromptu tours of the craft.

“I’ve never been over here before, so I thought instead of jetting back, why not stay for a bit?” Captain Bruce Briggs said. “We’re just kind of doing some P.R.”

Briggs said that when he received his orders, he understood there was an old hovercraft pad on Parksville’s beach, but had no idea where it was.

“I looked on Google Earth to find it,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve got a woman who lives in Victoria but works up this way, and I had her come out and take some pictures to send us.”

The hovercraft arrived for offloading shortly after 8 a.m. After offering tours and posing for photos with curious onlookers, the Moytel pushed back into the shallow surf at 10:15 a.m., filled its ballast tanks and powered up for the return trip to Sea Island.

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