A report of an overturned boat sent marine-rescue crews to the waters off White Rock pier Wednesday evening, where searchers initially believed one person remained lost at sea.
According to officials with the Crescent Beach Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue unit (RCM-SAR5), the call regarding a 28-foot aluminum crab boat with engine trouble taking on water came in just before 5 p.m., after locals on the pier spotted the distressed craft.
The vessel operator, a 36-year-old Tsawwassen man, ran into trouble about one kilometre off-shore when inclement weather hit as he was attempting to remove his crab traps from the bay, crew spokesman Dean Donnelly told Peace Arch News by email.
While the fisherman managed to get to shore – after having to abandon his heavily-loaded and rapidly sinking boat in five feet of water – he was initially too cold to communicate, leading rescuers to suspect others must also have been onboard.
After determining the man had been alone, attention turned to the danger of the shipwreck and possible oil spill, as a receding tide prevented the vessel from being unloaded and anchored for several hours.
C-Tow operator Andrew Newman said Thursday that he worked with the fisherman “throughout the night” to try to salvage the boat, which apparently began sinking after a welded crack in its hull failed.
Newman, who also operates White Rock Sea Tours, noted it was not his first time helping the man out of a watery bind.
“I’ve rescued him once off the Tsawwassen ferry terminal this summer,” Newman said.
He described the craft as “a death trap.”
It was towed to Crescent Beach Marina, and “not much of any” slick was reported.