CLI celebrates 40th anniversary (1981-2021)

This year the Canadian Lifeboat Institution celebrates its 40th anniversary (1981-2021). As an independent lifeboat organisation, we have been providing search and rescue services in British Columbia Canada for a long time; and to commemorate this one of our crew made a ship in a bottle of the Delta Lifeboat. Crewman and supporter Aaron T.  used some of the wood from Delta’s last refit to build this beautiful model. All we can say is “It’s a beauty – BZ”.

2020 and 2021 brought us new challenges with COVID-19; however, we can all be proud of the history of the Canadian Lifeboat Institution.

Native and commercial fishery patrols – Oct 24 to Nov 06

On Saturday 24 Oct 2020, the Delta Lifeboat crew became aware that a native fishery was open in the river.

Proceeding out into the main river it was discovered that about 20 gillnetters were fishing between Crown Forest and Tilbury. At 11:15 the Delta Lifeboat was hailed by the Rail ferry ‘Carrier Princess’ who was attempting to leave her berth at Tilbury. A fishing vessel had set his net across the ferries stern blocking him in. The captain requested Delta’s help in moving the fishing vessel.

On the scene in 5 minutes, the fishing vessel was requested to move his net which he did and the ferry was able to sail.

A short while after another fishing vessel was requested to move as he was blocking the progress of a tug and barge attempting approaching the Gravesend barge tie-up. The fishing vessel complied.

The next day, it was decided to conduct a patrol from 0900 – 1800.

There were fewer fishing vessels out in the morning and most deployed in the area just below the tunnel.

11 escorts were provided including one container ship and the ferry ‘Northern Adventure’ which was moved into Deas Dock by 4 tugs. Delta stood by to ensure no net would interfere with this difficult manoeuvre.

While escorting the container ship the pilot called to advise he had observed an oil slick around one of the gillnetters. Delta broke away to investigate and found a possible diesel sheen extending downriver. A phone call was made to the Coast Guard pollution who had a boat on the scene in about 30 minutes. No further action was required by Delta Lifeboat.

Commercial Fishery patrols were conducted from 02 Nov 2020 to 06 Nov 2020. Delta Lifeboat conducted more than 40 hours of patrols and escorts during this time.

Johnston Strait Chum Fishery Deployment – Oct 2020

The CLI deployed the Delta Lifeboat to support the chum salmon fishery in the Johnston Strait from 15 Oct 2020 – 21 Oct 2020. Crews trained near Port Neville to ensure all equipment was fully operational and to prepare for any calls for assistance.

On 17 Oct at 10:30, a call was monitored from Canadian Coastguard Radio referencing one canoe and two kayaks overdue in area Swanson Island. Advised JRCC lifeboat available at 5 min notice to search area if required. Training put on hold. At 12:44 Delta L/B was advised the overdue persons located. There being no further requirement,  the Delta L/B proceeded to conduct fire / salvage training at Robbers Nob in Port Neville.

On Sunday 18 Oct 2020 after plotting fishing boundaries all preparations were made to commence operations at 15:00. JRCC was fully informed. The Delta L/B proceeded on a patrol of the area between Port Neville and the Broken Islands where approximately 85 fishing vessels were observed.

At 1847 it was decided because of how the fleet was spread out, that the best plan of action would be to go to anchor off Port Neville and maintain radio night watch. The fleet was so informed as was JRCC. The lifeboat remained at 10 min notice and remain in a 2 watch system. There were no incidents overnight.

On Monday 19 Oct 2020 at 09:50, the anchor was weighed and Delta L/B patrolled the area between Port Neville and Robson Bight. Approximately 50 fishing vessels were observed plus about 10 packers.

The weather remained very changeable with wind NW 5 – 15 with a 1-foot chop. Rain showers and sunny periods.

The Delta L/B returned to Port Neville where a radio watch was maintained through the night. At 17:35 the fishing vessel ‘Lional L’ was observed in difficulty off the entrance to Port Neville while changing a net. The RHIB was sent away to provide assistance. It turned out the net had fouled the propeller. Assistance was provided by the RHIB’s crew and the fishing vessel was able to proceed under its own power.

On Tuesday 20 Oct it was decided that Delta L/B would return to Ladner at the gillnet closure. The anchor was raised at 08:00 for the transit to Gowlland Harbour for a night anchorage. En route, many seine boats were observed preparing for their opening. Secured to trees in various indentations gear was being readied for ‘beach seining’ where the outboard end of the net is secured to a tree. We were sorry to miss that action.

On Wednesday 21 Oct 2020 for the final leg back to the Fraser River, the ship was prepared for possible rough weather. The forecast was for winds NW 15 – 25. The anchor was weighed at 07:35.

Once clear of Discovery Passage, the following sea picked up and with seas running to 4 feet on the port quarter, the crew had to commence hand steering as the autopilot could not maintain course well enough, but good training for the hands.

In Sabine Channel, two tugs with barges were sighted opposing throwing spray as they sailed into a head sea.

The remaining of the transit was uneventful except for the following sea, Sandheads being reached at 18:00. Delta L/B secured at the Ladner Station at 19:25 for a total service of 161 hours, 51 hours were steamed for a distance of 408 nm.

Important notice for navigation and officers of the watch

Today more and more navigational decisions are made based on electronic readouts.

Lately, our Lifeboats have become aware that some AIS targets are showing inaccurate information. Track-course, speed, CPA and position can be up to ¾ mile out. In other words, the target is not where it appears to be. Therefore, and following normal professional procedures, no collision avoidance decision must be made based solely on AIS information, but should be verified by radar. This warning is also based on consultation with other commercial vessels and the Coast Guard Victoria Traffic Service.

The worst affected targets appear to be those fitted with Class ‘B’ AIS system.

Fraser and Delta Lifeboats Joint Training – Sep 2020

Regular Saturday training was conducted on 19 Sep 2020 with both Delta and Fraser Lifeboats exercising together.

After proceeding down to Sand Heads, a pre-exercise briefing was held aboard Delta L/B.

Once again, both lifeboats would practice station keeping and formation turns together as would be required in a real search.

While it looks very simple on a blackboard, it is much more difficult in reality and requires good teamwork and a lot of discipline to ensure an area to be searched is successfully covered.

Both lifeboats exercised at being the ‘guide’ passing required course, speed and spacing. This always proves to be a challenging but rewarding exercise.

It is hoped that the exercise will be expanded to include other SAR units in the near future.

While transiting back to Ladner, the Delta L/B received a radio hail from a Seaspan rail ferry concerned about commercial traffic being encumbered by the mass of recreational fishing vessels at the mouth of the river. Coast Guard Radio also monitored and passed information to the ferry suggesting the captain call DFO for action.

Just another hazard that could result in a tragic accident because of those who do not follow logical rules and common sense.