Derelict boats fly through the sky in Cowichan Bay

Derelict boats fly through the sky in Cowichan Bay

WATCH: It was quite the sight as three Cowichan Bay companies paid for a helicopter to lift derelict vessels out of the estuary. April Lawrence was there.

All eyes were on the sky Wednesday as an unusual-looking helicopter swooped in, landing in an industrial area of Cowichan Bay.

But the show was just getting started.

“Little bit of wind today but that’ll help us lift,” HeliQwest pilot Jay Blythman said.

What Blythman was lifting was a little out of the ordinary. The heli-logging pilot was in Cowichan Bay to pluck derelict vessels out of the estuary.

“We’ll recycle whatever we can, and what we can’t it’ll probably just go to a landfill,” President of Pacific Industrial Marine, Brian Thacker said.

The pricey operation was paid for by three local companies ? Pacific Industrial Marine, Western Forest Products, and Western Stevedoring.

“We work in the bay, we live in the bay, let’s do something to enhance the bay,” Thacker said.

A washed up sailboat was first, making for a strange sight as it soared above the trees, before being dropped off on land.

The second vessel was chopped up into three pieces because it was too heavy ? the helicopter can lift up to 6000 pounds.

The companies removed four other derelict boats they could access by water last week.

“We had to wait for high tide, we used some air bags to lift them to float them,” Thacker said.

They had an issue with one, which is why they wanted to remove the boats in the first place.

“When we took that one out that was buried, we had oil coming out of it, so we all of a sudden had to get oil booms and everything else,” Thacker said.

Abandoned boats are a problem across Vancouver Island.

While the federal government recently promised $6.85 million to fund removal of wrecks across the country, local authorities say it just isn’t enough.

“There needs to be an ongoing bigger plan, not just throw a few dollars on it and say we’ve done something,” Cowichan Valley Regional District Area D Director Lori Iannidinardo said.

In this case, it was private citizens doing something, at a cost of about $45,000.

The job was complete in about 12 minutes, and now there are six fewer leaking and sinking wrecks in the beautiful bay.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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