Boat captain honoured for rescue at Dodd Narrows near Nanaimo

Boat captain honoured for rescue at Dodd Narrows near Nanaimo

A boat captain has been honoured with a prestigious award for taking swift action to save the lives of two people whose canoe capsized last year at Dodd Narrows.

The Lifesaving Society has honoured Rodrigo Menezes with a Silver Medal for Merit.

“I was super excited about it. It’s an honour to be recognized for something like that and it was also a huge surprise for me,” said Menezes, the marine operations manager of Vancouver Island Whale Watch.

In April last year, Menezes was conducting a whale-watching tour when he noticed two canoeists in Dodd Narrows between Vancouver Island and Mudge Island. Aware of the dangerous currents, he kept an eye on the pair and quickly responded when their canoe capsized.

Despite the fast-moving water, Menezes managed to manoeuvre his boat, throw a life ring to the father and teenage son, who were both wearing life jackets, and help them onboard.

“It happened really fast and in this kind of situation you have to think fast as well,” said Menezes.  “Just a little bit cold from the water but other than that they were doing just fine so it was a huge relief once I took them out of the water.”

On Saturday, Menezes was one of 17 recipients across BC and the Yukon to be honoured, although he couldn’t attend the awards ceremony in Burnaby.

“Rodrigo’s boat operation experience and the fact his tour group was in the area at the right time prevented a much more serious result and for that we present him today with a silver medal for merit,” the presentation said in part.

The Lifesaving Society’s executive director, Leana Grace, praised Menezes’ decisive actions.

“Rodrigo didn’t hesitate in his actions. He saw what was happening and he knew he could help them,” said Grace.

But the captain is remaining humble about his actions, saying he’s no hero.

“I just did the right thing. I was lucky to be at the right spot at the right time and do the right thing. It’s something I don’t want, this kind of situation, for sure but if I had to I’d do the same thing again,” he said.

Menezes will receive his medal in the mail this week and hopes his story serves as a reminder of the dangerous currents in Dodd Narrows and the importance of always wearing a personal flotation device.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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