On Saturday 29th August 2020 while in transit between Sand Heads and Active Pass, the Delta Lifeboat received a signal that a BC Ferry had sighted what appeared to be a sunken vessel barely awash in the ferry lanes. Having been given a good position the lifeboat altered course to investigate.
Coming on the scene it was found to be a small fibreglass vessel, probably about 20’ long with its bow straight down and only about 5’ of the stern sticking vertically out of the water.
Being in US waters, communications were established with US Coast Guard Puget Sound and a situation report was passed. The lifeboat was requested to commence a box search to find any other floating material. A USCG helicopter was tasked from Port Angeles as was a response boat from the Bellingham Coast Guard station.
When the helicopter arrived on scene and radio communications were established, the lifeboat was asked to go alongside the vessel and bang on the hull in case a person was trapped inside. Shortly afterwards the USCG vessel arrived and after passing all known info the Delta Lifeboat was stood down and able to continue on its mission.
While the Canadian Coast Guard was kept fully informed it appeared an incident the night before might be related. A small vessel had been in trouble off Porlier Pass and the hovercraft rescued 2 survivors. Although an attempt was made to save the vessel the tow line parted twice so it was abandoned in rough seas.
It is believed that this vessel, now deemed a hazard to navigation, was the same one now drifting in US waters. Over the next 2 days, dozens of sightings were reported to Coast Guard radio.
A post-incident follow up with the hovercraft base reported the vessel as the S.V Pickle, 12’ in length with a broad beam. The hovercraft was later tasked to recover the vessel and transported it to the Sea Island Coast Guard Base.
The danger of boating alone was brought home to a Richmond resident when his small 11-foot aluminium boat suddenly started to take on water and sink leaving him swimming for this life.
On Thursday 27 Aug 2020, the Delta Lifeboat was returning into Sea Reach to the Delta Lifeboat Station in Ladner from an evening of training. At 20:45 one of the lookouts reported debris in the water ahead. It was now after sunset and getting dark.
On closer investigation, it was found to be a submerged small boat with loose gear that had floated free. Suddenly one of the lookouts reported he could hear a cry for help. Switching on Delta L/B’s powerful searchlights revealed a man in the water waving.
The lifeboat was manoeuvred alongside and the man was hauled aboard where he was treated for hypothermia. While he was being attended to, the Lifeboat crew managed to recover some of the debris and lash his skiff to the stern. During the recovery, RCM-SAR stood by to provide assistance if required. After making a full report to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, the Delta L/B returned at 22:00 to Ladner where the survivor was met by a thankful wife.
This was a very lucky rescue, for, with total darkness descending and an outflowing river, the survivor would have been swept out into the Gulf and perhaps not found until the next day with possibly tragic results.
The Fraser Lifeboat received a call during the CLI Lifeboat Day of a vessel aground South of Sand Heads. Fraser departed Ladner and headed out to Sand Heads. The stricken vessel had hydraulic problems, no steering, and only a single person aboard. As the tide was rising, the vessel went adrift and Fraser crew advised him to drop anchor. Once on-scene the crew waited for tide changes to determine if there was enough clearance to safely render a tow. With an average depth of 8 feet, the vessel was securely towed back to Steveston Harbour, where it was secured to the government dock.
The weather on Saturday 18th July was perfect for the Canadian Lifeboat Institution’s ‘Lifeboat Day’ open house held at the Elliot Street Wharf in Ladner. The ‘Delta’ and ‘Fraser’ lifeboats were on view for the public to learn about the charities work and a number of Delta residents conveyed how pleased they were to have a lifeboat stationed in Ladner. Mayor George Harvie and Mrs. Harvie attended and voiced the cities gratitude for the Institution’s service to the community and how even closer ties to the City might be established.
Many generous donations were received and several possible new recruits were interviewed while the public were viewing.
At midday, a request was received to assist a 40 foot motor vessel aground on Roberts Bank with disabled hydraulic steering. The ‘Fraser’ lifeboat proceeded to assist with crews from Ladner and Steveston stations on board. Arriving on the scene as the tide was rising; the vessel was taken in tow with its lone skipper aboard and secured safely in Steveston for repair.
The very successful Lifeboat Day closed at 4 PM and thanks go to the City of Delta staff for their kind assistance and support.