A report of an overturned vessel in Boundary Bay led marine rescue crews to scour waters for several hours Tuesday in search of whomever may have been onboard.
Fortunately, the owner was located safe and sound – after seven hours. He had apparently left the skiff anchored off Point Roberts after the boat broke down, and didn’t advise authorities when he returned to discover it missing.
While pleased with the happy ending, rescue co-ordination officials said the extensive search could have been easily averted.
“It took quite a bit of work,” said Steve Church, maritime co-ordinator at the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre. “Until you know for sure that the owner’s safe, you’ve got to keep searching.
“It sort of shows the value of notifying the Coast Guard when you leave a vessel out there.”
Church said in addition to the Crescent Beach auxiliary team, the search effort involved the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.
Sig Kristensen, a member of the Crescent Beach auxilliary, said it was “kind of disconcerting” not knowing if the vessel’s owner was safe.
The incident was the third that Kristensen’s crew responded to involving such vessels in two days.
Monday, a gale that gusted 20- to 25-knot winds and whisked up six-foot swells in the bay spelled trouble for two boats participating in the opening of the U.S. native fishery.
The auxiliary crew was tasked out around 7:30 a.m. Aug. 22, after a boat headed to Point Roberts from Blaine broke down just south of Kwomais Point, near Ocean Park.
On their way back to Crescent Beach Marina, after towing that vessel back to Blaine, the rescue team spotted a second vessel that appeared to be in trouble.
Investigating, they learned the two-man crew – who had no compass, cellphone, radio or lifejackets onboard – had become lost trying to return to Blaine.
After multiple efforts to point them in the right direction were unsuccessful, the auxiliary crew escorted the boat in.
Kristensen noted occupants of both vessels appeared unswayed by the conditions on the water.
“When these guys went out, they knew it was there,” he said.