New SAR decals for Fraser Lifeboat

In an effort to increase our visibility and understanding of our function by the community, the Fraser Lifeboat has added Search and Rescue decals to the wheelhouse. These were pre-approved by the Sr Lifeboat Commander. A donation was arranged through our Coxswain David A and business owner John Pinkerton of Sandpiper Signs & Decals Inc. John applied the reflective red decals today and we already got several comments about how amazing they look.

2021 Herring Fishery Support

The 2021 herring fishery in the Gulf of Georgia was again attended by the ‘Delta Lifeboat’ that deployed for 15 days.

With COVID restrictions and protocols in place and a crew limited to 5 Delta L/B sailed for the grounds on Sunday 28 Feb 2021 with winds from the SE ranging from 20 – 35 knots. An interesting transit was made to Baynes Sound where a protected anchorage was found in company with several seine boats in Henry Bay.

It was now a question of waiting for the fish. This would prove to be a somewhat different year. High winds, COVID-19, the fish arriving late and spread out from north of Cape Lazo, south to Nanaimo. Combined this made it difficult to decide where the most pressing need might be. Delta Lifeboat’s patrol area was mainly decided in consultation with Mike Frost of Canfisco and by monitoring the AIS movement of Packers.

While waiting the week prior to the start of fishing the time was well-spent conducting checks and maintenance on all equipment and training. Some minor electrical repairs were traced and repaired thanks to the technical skills o four engineers. Bruce D. inspected all the medical supplies and equipment on board and stowed it into a new ‘jump’ bag. Once completed, training was given to all crew members. Other training during the week consisted of towing, anchoring, boat work, MOB, and transfer of patients from RHIB down to the after mess, using the boom and purchase. This last in case we had to transfer a heavy patient.

At the conclusion of training, which added up to 28 hours, some crew task sign-offs were done. Some of the training was spent in trying to improve actual methods used in evolutions to save time and improve safety. The crew fully engaged in this and good ideas brought forward. During one of the towing exercises, the WorkSafe B.C. launch joined and allowed Delta L/B to take it in tow. Again demonstrating the close bond CLI has with FishSafe and WorkSafe B.C.

Owing to COVID restrictions ‘Delta L/B’ spent no time in the harbor except for water or crew change. The only exception to this was the last day in French Creek when after a crew change it was decided to wait overnight for an improvement in the weather.

As far as the actual fishery went, the action was mainly over 5 days starting with the seines who fished from French Creek down to North West Bay. The weather was fine as Delta L/B patrolled through the fleet. The gillnetters opened the following day off Cape Lazo so Delta L/B proceeded north at her best speed. After a patrol through the fleet to get a feel of where the main action would be, Delta L/B came to anchor where a continuous radio and visual watch could be maintained. 24 hours later it appeared that the fleet was thinning out and moving south and Delta L/B weighed anchor and also moved south through Lambert channel and around Hornby Island where some fishing was observed. A phone call with Canfisco indicated however that the main event was still at Cape Lazo, so Delta L/B returned to anchor on the south side of the Cape.

At midnight the weather changed from a light breeze to SE 15 – 20 knots. This made the anchorage very uncomfortable and little sleep for those off watch. However, because the gillnetters were continuing to fish off the lee shore and a real risk of a vessel being swamped, Delta L/B stayed on station. During the morning watch the seine boat ‘Sun Fisher’ was observed dragging anchor onto the lee shore. After dragging for  2 – 3 cables Delta L/B was able to alert the crew who weighed anchor in time and move into deeper water. By midday, Delta L/B was advised that the fishery was moving down to the Qualicum River and so redeployed to that location. Night watches were again maintained as the fishing was quite intense. Delta L/B stayed in the area until the conclusion of fishing when she proceeded into French Creek for a crew change.

At midday, a gillnetter was towed in by another one and secured on Delta L/B’s dock. It turned out they had run over a net and fouled both inboard/outboard props. Later in the afternoon a diver arrived on the scene and proceeded with a clearance dive. The crew from Delta L/B assisted. The props and bearings were removed and finally cleared. Thanks were received from the fisherman and the diver. Although it had been planned to leave for Nanaimo that afternoon it was decided to wait out the weather overnight (it was blowing SE 25). On Sunday morning it was still blowing SE 15 – 20 but forecast to go to the NW. The decision was made that after securing the lifeboat for possible heavy weather that at midday Delta L/B would slip and transit directly for the Fraser River. After clearing harbor the wind had dropped to 15 knots. However, the old sea made for a very wet ride until abeam of Nanaimo when the promised wind of NW 30-35 knots was encountered. With a quickly rising sea from astern, the watch went onto manual steering which gave them more practice of heavy weather steering. All hands performed well.

Sand Heads was reached at 17:30 and with a 6-foot sea running a very careful approach had to be made staying very close to the lighthouse before turning, with white water everywhere it was a relief to gain the protection of the breakwater. Few realize that it is conditions exactly like this that have claimed so many lives over the years. In fact, Sand Heads was the #1 most dangerous piece of water in Canada for many years.

Delta L/B secured at her Ladner station at 18:30. A huge ‘BZ’ to all the crew who participated.

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.