At approximately 3:30pm, Sunday Nov. 27th, 2011, Canadian Coast Guard Aux. Unit #37 was tasked with a MAYDAY call. A 14′ aluminum boat had overturned leaving one person in the water approximately 0.5 nm off the shores of Jordan River in large seas.
Our unit brought our 2 RHIBS to attend the scene. On a calm day it takes about 20-25 minutes to get to JR at 30knts. It was clear to us upon exiting Sooke Harbour, passing Whiffin Spit into the open waters of Juan de Fuca Strait, it would be much longer in arriving. Facing 8-10 foot seas, we exited the harbour and headed for Jordan River.
As we passed Otter Point, 8 miles away from our base, a USGC Helo from Port Angeles quickly passed overhead. They had heard the MAYDAY call and proceeded for Jordan River. It’s wonderful to know that our two countries have no boundaries when it comes to situations like this and all hands available are there to assist. We have encountered this numerous times over the past years. Working together to get the tasking done.
We could also hear the sirens of police, ambulance and fire racing to the scene from Sooke and we could make our the flashing lights on Sooke Rd. Shirley Fire Rescue would likely have been the first tasked and the first to make it to Jordan River.
At Sheringham Lighthouse we stopped the boats to receive a transmission from Coast Guard Radio. An update to the situation. A surfer(s) had witnessed the boat being overturned from shore and one of them headed out on their board to assist the person. They had successfully brought the person back to shore to the waiting EMS.
However, two other people in ocean kayaks decided they would also try to lend a helping hand and proceeded out in the direction of the overturned boat. They seemed to be having difficulties after and reports had them overturned a couple of times. Coast Guard wanted us to assist them now. Keep in mind that JR is a great surfing spot so these waves are very large right now considering the weather we’ve been having and the wind storms.
As we arrived on scene both USCG and Canadian Coast Guard Helo’s were present, one on land ready to take the patient if needed and the other flying around to assist again if needed until the kayakers were brought safely to shore.
We quickly located the overturned vessel but left that to lend a hand to the kayakers. They were approx. 0.25nm off shore and were stationary in the water. The Spirit of Sooke took one of the kayakers and put them on the boat and quickly took him to shore because he didn’t think he would be able to safely make it back in . The other kayaker said he didn’t need any help and he made his way safely back to shore under his own power, with us closely following behind.
After everyone was safely brought back to shore we started our search of the overturned vessel but we only had a moment before the sun finally dipped into the ocean rending us helpless to locate it in those heavy seas.
In my opinion it probably went under the water to the bottom. The bow was just poking out of the water when we first located it, so it clearly had poor flotation and it would probably would only take a couple of those large waves to send it to its final resting position.
It took us another hour to navigate back to our base in the Sooke Harbour in the dark with those large waves.
Very pleased to say all crew performed extremely well. Proud to call all of them crew mates and would like to thank the CG Helo and the USCG Helo as well.
I don’t know who the surfer was that managed to get the person out of the water, but would like to extend a huge thank you as well for risking it all and bringing him safely back to shore to the waiting EMS. Well done.
And another big thanks to the ocean kayakers who also put it out on the line to assist. Thank you very much for trying. Greatly appreciated.
I don’t know the status of the person taken to hospital, but if I find out I will update this and let everyone know.
Unit 37 out!
For more information on our unit, please visit our official website at http://www.ccga37.org