Four people and a dog rescued after yacht takes on water off Oak Bay

Two teenage girls and one adult woman were rescued from a dinghy by the U.S. Coast Guard.

A large-scale rescue mission took place in the waters off Oak Bay Friday evening.

According to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre a mayday call was received at 6:04 p.m. from a yacht originating from the United States that was taking on water just south of Discovery Island.

Capt. Chelsea Dubeau with the JRCC confirms four people and a dog were on board the yacht that is believed to be about 30 to 40 feet in length.

Several aircraft attended including a US Coast Guard helicopter, and a two aircraft — the CC-130H Hercules and CH-149 Cormorant — based out of 19 Wing Comox. Two vessels with the Canadian Coast Guard also assisted in recovering the people on board. Additionally, a three-person crew from the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue – Oak Bay Station were deployed to the call.

According to Dubeau, three people on board were located in a dinghy two hours after the initial mayday call was received. All three were airlifted to safety and taken to the Canadian Coast Guard base in Victoria. They were then taken to hospital.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Pacific Northwest shared video of the rescue of the three people from the dinghy, saying the two teenage girls and one adult woman were showing signs of hypothermia.

A fourth person was located in the water near the yacht around 9:30 p.m. They were also airlifted to safety and taken directly to Victoria General Hospital. A dog was also rescued.

The condition of the four people involved was not disclosed.

Paul McDonnell, coxswain with Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue – Oak Bay Station, says while it was lucky there was still daylight during the search, the crews faced other challenging conditions.

“I’ve been in quite a few rough conditions, but these were extreme waves. And in those conditions, the vessel can go up and down near 10, 12 feet, and goes off the edge of the waves and up a hit, and you’re continue continually getting pounded,” McDonnell told CHEK News in an interview.

“But at the same time, the expectation is that you’re searching as well, and you’re having to search between the troughs and crests of waves.”

McDonnell says while his crew was not updated on the condition of the people rescued, which is typical, he says for people who are found in the water their body can be up against some tough conditions.

“If you’re in the water for an hour, it’s a very dangerous situation,it doesn’t matter whether it’s summer, the water temperature’s cold all the time,” McDonnell said.

“If you can’t get your body out of the water onto a upturned vessel, or somehow a rock or something, if you’re totally immersed in the water, then most people suffer from hypothermia, stage three by an hour.”

McDonnell was not informed where any of the people were found, or what condition they were in, but he says he hopes they all recover well from the incident.

“Kudos to everyone involved,” McDonnell said. “It’s great that we’ve got those assests around to help people out in trouble.”

CHEK News has reached out to the BC Emergency Health Services for information about the condition of the people who were rescued.

It’s unclear what led to the mayday call but the JRCC says weather conditions were a factor.

Joe Perkins
Laura Brougham

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