Two different groups of boaters were lucky to escape after both of their vessels ran into trouble in waters off Victoria over Canada Day weekend.
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three people from a dinghy in the Salish Sea just a few kilometres from Victoria.
The joint rescue between Canadian and U.S. forces happened last Friday night after a mayday call was received from a yacht taking on water.
“Thankfully, we already had a helicopter airborne and since we work so closely with our Canadian partners, we were able to divert that helicopter overhead and eventually were able to pull those three people off the dinghy,” says U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier.
A fourth person was later pulled from the sea along with a dog, with the four people being transported to Victoria General Hospital.
It wasn’t the only weekend rescue, with the U.S. Coast Guard also having to save three people onboard another vessel that was pushed onto the rocks near the south end of Lopez Island.
“The vessel had been pushed up against the rocks, but it was also nighttime when the helicopter got on scene,” says Strohmaier.
“The only fortunate part was that they were so close to land the rescue swimmer was able to escort those people off the vessel, get them onto dry land, and the helicopter was actually able to land and put the people in the helicopter.”
The coast guard and groups like the Boating B.C. Association say events like these should serve as a reminder to always be prepared on the water and to employ safe boating practices.
“It really comes down to making sure that your boat is in good working order, of course,” says Boating B.C. Association executive director Bruce Hayne.
“It also is to have a float plan, and a float plan is to make sure that somebody on land knows where you’re going, when you’re going and when you are expected back.”
Strohmaier added you also want to know about your vessel itself, the capabilities of the vessel, and the capabilities you’re willing to go into.
While alcohol did not play a factor in either rescue this weekend, it’s still important to save the drinks until after docking.
“It’s just like driving, you’re not going to mix the two. Alcohol and boating never mix, so make sure you always have a designated driver for the boat,” says Strohmaier.
With a busy summer on the water still ahead, being boat smart could mean the difference between enjoying your journey, or ending your trip with a helicopter ride.