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Grounded sailboat was subject of U.S. Coast Guard effort

Some light has been shed on how the sailboat
Some light has been shed on how the sailboat 'Being There' ran aground on the beach west of White Rock.
— image credit: Will Kirk

A sailboat found grounded on White Rock's west beach last week was the subject of a U.S. Coast Guard rescue effort.

According to a spokesman at the Canadian Coast Guard Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria, six people had to be evacuated from the 34-foot "Being There" in U.S. waters on Feb. 16, the night before it washed ashore here.

White Rock resident and longtime boater Chris Rideout said he heard the "riveting real-life drama" unfold over his handheld VHF radio.

The captain had apparently anchored the boat in Sucia Island's Ewing Cove while the passengers went for a hike. When he returned to check on the vessel, it had dragged anchor and was hard aground, Rideout said.

Rideout described the cove as dangerous, "no place to be in a southeast gale."

He said he heard the boat's captain tell the Coast Guard that he couldn't get his GPS to work and didn't know where the lifejackets were.

A rescue helicopter apparently hovered over the area for two hours, but couldn't land; and the passengers ended up sheltering for the night in a composting toilet, Rideout said.

Rideout said it is "amazing" the boat made it all the way to White Rock without sinking.

He described the forecast for the night as "ominous," and said he was surprised anyone had ventured out at all.

South Surrey resident Gerry Kirk said he and his teenaged son, Will, came across the wreck the following afternoon. They also met two of the people who had been onboard the night before, he said.

The couple told the Kirks they'd had trouble with the boat – which belonged to their uncle – and had weighed anchored for the night. They discovered it was gone in the morning.

In salvaging belongings last week, the couple discovered some of their things had been stolen in the short spate of time that the boat was unattended, Kirk added.

- Tracy Holmes & Sarah Massah

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