Gripping Marine Rescue in Vancouver BC
July 13th 2014 was a warm summer day in Vancouver British Columbia. Many residents and tourists took to the water to cool off and enjoy the beautiful evening in Horseshoe Bay. 30 mins drive north of downtown Vancouver, the peaceful waters of Horseshoe Bay sit amongst Vancouver’s coastal mountains.
A local PBCC family chose to charter a whale watching tour @ 5:00 pm that evening with some guests from around the globe – Sydney, Texas and San Francisco. The 400 horsepower tour boat seated twelve plus the skipper and everyone anticipated a wonderful tour of the wilderness of western Canada.
Shortly after departure, the captain slowed the boat to watch some locals diving from the cliffs. Then it became obvious that two people a little further along were franticly waving and pointing down to the water nearby. Upon closer inspection, the tour boat discovered a small boat had capsized. Six middle-aged men were struggling to stay afloat. Nearby glacial streams feed the waters in the area, and the conditions are potentially deadly.
Nobody could tell from the tour boat at this point how long the men had been in the water. They seemed exhausted. Just one seemed to be swimming proficiently, and two others were wearing life jackets. The three remaining were panicking in the cold water. The wet fiberglass hull of an upside down speedboat gives little handhold, but one man was desperately holding on to a half-inch piece of trim. Another was struggling to stay afloat, with nothing to hold. Witnesses, who saw him sinking underwater for a second or two before resurfacing sputtering and coughing, realized that without immediate intervention that there could be a fatality.
Seeing the imminent need, five of the twelve PBCC members on the boat leapt into the water fully clothed. While still in the water, the Brethren men helped the men into lifejackets and tried to calm them. Meanwhile the captain of the tour radioed for help “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, we have a capsized vessel with six persons in the water”.
Thankfully, an owner of a nearby boat rental company came to the rescue. With the assistance of the 5 PBCC members, all six souls were able to get into her boat in safety. The Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft arrived shortly thereafter and the RCMP in a fast Police boat only a moment behind them.
The cause for the accident is not known, but all the men are now safe and well and that’s what matters!