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Search and rescue busy on the water

Numerous emergencies keep rescuers hopping in last week of July

A civilian sailboat, and the crews of an RCAF Cormorant helicopter and Canadian Coast Guard vessel responded to a report of an overturned vessel east of Texada Island Saturday, July 21, rescuing two men from the cold waters.

The men had been in a 15-foot boat when a large wave capsized the craft and threw both boaters into the water.

Both were able to cling to an ice cooler and remained in the water for over an hour until a passing civilian sailboat spotted them and brought them onboard.

The crew of the sailboat then called Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria to report the incident.

A Cormorant helicopter, carrying search and rescue technician (SAR Tech) first responders, was sent to rendezvous with the sailboat in case the men required medical care. The helicopter arrived over the sailboat at approximately 2:40 p.m.

“The rigging and sails on the boat posed some challenges to hoist on board, so we jumped into the water and swam 100 metres to the boat,” said Master Corporal Sean Daniell. “Once we got on board, we gave both men a check-up; they were both cold and exhausted from treading water for so long.”

Once the SAR Techs had confirmed the men were in stable condition, they were transferred into the care of a Coast Guard Fast Response Craft crew from Powell River and evacuated.



• The crew of a Buffalo Search and Rescue airplane lent a hand to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Alaskan State Troopers in the rescue of four American fishermen in a life raft, after their boat sank in the waters of Dixon Entrance, Thursday, July 26th.

The twin-engine Buffalo was on a return trip from Terrace when the crew picked up a radio request for help from the USCG to respond to an 84-foot fishing vessel that was taking on water south of Prince of Wales Island, along the B.C.-Alaska border.

“We got on scene just after midnight, within 25 minutes of the USCG’s call,” said aircraft commander, Captain Julian White. “We homed-in on the crew’s emergency beacon and quickly spotted the debris field from the sunken boat, as well as an emergency strobe light on the life raft.”

With other boats on their way to help, the Buffalo crew immediately began dropping smoke markers in the water, making a triangle around the raft to mark its position.

Once the raft’s position was marked on the water, the aircraft ascended to a higher altitude and began dropping parachute flares to illuminate the scene for the crew of an Alaskan State Trooper patrol boat which recovered the uninjured fishermen.



• The two-person crew of a Courtenay fishing boat had to leap to safety this week after their captain allegedly assaulted them, fired a shotgun into the air and threatened to kill them.

The drama erupted Sunday night in the waters off Port Hardy when the 49-year-old captain of the 10-metre gillnetter, Opal T, allegedly got high on cocaine and became eratic.

After a search that required help from Telus to zero in on the 26-year-old woman crew member’s cell phone, a police boat was able to get close enough for the two crew members to leap to safety.

The captain, Keith Thomas, was arrested in Port Hardy.