The U.S. Coast Guard were able to rescue the owner and two dogs after a sailboat ran aground this week, but a third dog is still missing.
The man and his three dogs were on board their sailboat off the southwest tip of Vancouver Island on Dec. 28, when the boat lost power and was swept onto rocks.
Petty Officer Austen Marshall, who is a flight mechanic, says the call about the sailboat came in around 11:45 p.m.
“They passed some information saying that there was a sailboat that is washed ashore, which we had gotten called before, for something like that,” Marshall said. “So we took off and as we were on the way, the story changed there were people on the boat and there were also dogs on the boat.”
When they arrived on scene, they requested the man send off a flair or some other way to give the coast guard indication of where he was.
“He actually got our attention by shining, I think it was a cell phone flashlight at us. And so we got up closer, we shine the flash or the spotlight on them, we realized that his boat was pretty much sunk and it was getting smashed against a few rocks so he was not a good situation,” Marshall said.
“It was an extremely windy night, the weather was very, very bad. So we made the decision that we needed to get down there and we need to do it quickly.”
Petty Officer Luke Wengrin is a rescue swimmer and was sent down to the boat to rescue the man. He says when he got down there, the man was soaking wet and had been in that situation for about an hour.
“He was kind of at that point where you start to not being able to move well, very, very uncomfortable, very panicked, maybe not thinking extremely clearly,” Wengrin said. “Our communication boiled down to me yelling at him, telling him, ‘you need to get off the boat, wait for the wave to push you towards me and then jump off, I’ll grab you.’ And that’s essentially what we did.”
Once the man was in the helicopter, Wengrin says he was then able to turn his attention to finding the dogs.
“I turned around and look towards the shore, and there was a dog hanging out there,” Wengrin said. “So what I needed to do at that point was go get the dogs, go back up on shore and pull him back out to the waves.”
Wengrin says once he was able to gain the dogs trust, he was able to grab onto the life vest the dog was wearing and pull him into the water into the basket to pull him into the helicopter.
“Trying to figure out, okay, how we’re gonna get this dog scared, confused in the basket without it jumping out,” Wengrin said. “When I radioed the helicopter they were like, ‘okay, are you going to ride the basket up with with the dog?’ It sounded good to me.”
Once the dog was in the helicopter, Wengrin said they had to leave because of a lack of fuel for the helicopter. They transported the man and dog to the Canadian Coast Guard station to bring him to the hospital.
They decided to return to the scene the next morning to look for the other two dogs.
“Not to sound callous but we’re technically not allowed to go launch to look for a dog. But what we could do is we could launch to go investigate for environmental impact, you know, leaking fuel or oil from the vessel,” Marshall said, noting they headed back out to the area around 10 a.m. the next day. “We got back on the scene and the boat was completely obliterated, it was in over a dozen pieces, there was nothing left to it, really other than debris on the shore.”
“We were taking pictures of everything for investigating sake and, you know, while we’re there, we knew there was two more dogs on scene somewhere. So we investigated thoroughly, we were there for a long time, just looking around.”
When he was walking around, Marshall says he saw what he initially thought was a pile of seaweed.
“Then I saw something pink and I was like, ‘I think that’s a dog’s tongue’ and then it moved and I was like, ‘that’s definitely a dog,'” Marshall said.
Once again, the helicopter was running low on fuel, so despite knowing there was a third dog out there the team had to head back in.
Now ROAM is hoping people will keep an eye out for Ferrari, a 10-year-old male Rottweiler in the Sooke, Shirley, Mystic Beach and China Beach areas.