Sailboat Rescue Albion Box – Aug 2021

A Saturday morning training session onboard Canadian Lifeboat Institute’s Delta Lifeboat, August 28, became a real-life rescue experience when the crew sighted a stricken 33 ft yacht on the rocks that form the Albion Island Jetty.

A lone yachtsman was aground on the rocks, south of Steveston and close to Westham Island, from late the previous night. This area has trapped many vessels over the years and is one of the dangers that lurk in the Fraser River Estuary.

Delta Lifeboat Captain John Horton made a quick check with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC) in Victoria and, as the incident had not been reported, the Lifeboat was tasked to investigate.

On approaching the yacht, the lone sailor advised the Lifeboat crew that he had been sailing from Victoria but had no experience in the Fraser River and no radio to call for assistance. Unfortunately, running hard aground at the height of the evening tide made it impossible to refloat the vessel until a full tide cycle of 24 hours.

Responding to an alert from Pacific Region’s JRCC, the Sea Island-based Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Moytel, made swift passage to join Delta Lifeboat still standing by at the rescue location. The yacht was then boarded and inspected for damage. As it was not taking on water, and with a falling tide, plans were made to attempt to refloat the yacht on the next high tide at 10 o’clock that night.  It was agreed the Delta would return to the Albion Jetty location to tow the yacht free as the tide rose.

A crew of 7 reported aboard at 19:30 when a full briefing and refloating plan was held.  The RHIB was hoisted outboard and prepared.

The Lifeboat slipped at 2000 and proceeded for the Albion Box.   While Exiting Sea Reach an outgoing tug reported a small vessel possibly disabled off Garry Point.  Delta L/B was requested to investigate.  Arriving off Garry Point 10 minutes later a search found no vessel in the area and so continued on its primary mission.

Now in complete darkness, Delta L/B entered the box and closed the yacht from the south side on the rising tide.  The yacht was now still aground but with less of a starboard heel.  The RHIB was launched and closed to survey the best towing points.

At 2052 a bridal was set up to 2 strong cleats.  Returning to the Delta L/B the tow line was run out through the bull ring and secured to the bridal.  The scene was kept illuminated by Delta L/B’s searchlights.  Once secured Delta L/B went astern dead slow to await the high tide.   Just minutes before this was reached and by applying more power, the yacht finally slid off the rocks at 2150.

A quick survey indicated no water ingress but as the owner was unable to start the engine, and using the RHIB, the tow line was transferred to the yacht’s bow and “Delta” commenced towing the yacht safely out of the box and set course for Steveston.

Large commercial traffic had to be negotiated and just west of Garry Point, the owner of the yacht reported his engine now running and able to cast off the tow.   The RHIB was continuing to give close escort with Delta L/B ahead as the yacht was not able to display any navigation lights.

Finally, at 2250 the yacht was safely secured at the Imperial Landing and the incident closed.

Steveston Classic Boat Festival – Aug 2021

The CLI participated in the Steveston Classic Boat Festival on 21 and 22 Aug 2021. Due to COVID-19 the public was not allowed on the vessel but could view it externally. This provided a great opportunity for providing boating safety awareness as well as fundraising.

Round Bowen Island Paddleboard and Kayak Race – Jul 2021

On 24 Jul 2021 the Delta Lifeboat departed Ladner to provide support to the Round Bowen Island Paddleboard and Kayak Race 2021. The lifeboat was also able to respond en route, to another request by removing a 75′ tree that was causing a problem in Ladner Harbour.
On 25 Jul the race start was staggered over 1.5 hours and Delta L/B moved off to give close escort to the early starts while RCM-SAR 1B took up station with the later starters. Thankfully there were no medical requirements although a quick search had to be made for a competitor who appeared to be missing. He was quickly accounted for. Most of the retirees were because of exhaustion. Delta L/B did have to request a number of fast-moving powerboats to slow down and move further away for safety.

Multi-vessel search pattern exercise with CCG – Jul 2021

The CLI has been developing a better way to conduct multi-vessel search patterns. On 17 July the Delta Lifeboat, Fraser Lifeboat, Canadian Coast Guard Hovercraft Siyay, and a Canadian Coast Guard RHIB (Callsign Sea Island One) put those principles to the test. After rafting with all vessels for a briefing, we took our positions and tried with Delta L/B leading, and then switched to the CCG Hovercraft Siyay leading. We then met and debriefed. It looks like the CCG like this system and we will try again with ourselves and other agencies vessels like police, RCM-SAR, etc. There were lots of takeaways and things we need to work on, but it was a huge success and proved the concept works.

Marine assistance request – Jul 2021

On Saturday 10 Jul 2021 near the end of Fraser L/B safety patrol, a call came in to assist a boater who reported a vessel adrift near Wellington Point in Ladner. The Delta L/B was originally going to handle; however, Fraser L/B was closer. Upon arrival, we found the vessel already secured to a fishing camp dock by a passing pleasure boater. We checked if anyone was aboard but was vacant, also checked if taking on water as a slight list with engine hatches open and garbage bags all over. Coast Guard Rescue Centre took the report and advised us to leave the vessel where it was and they would record it in case of a report of loss. Fraser L/B was stood down and carried on with the conclusion of its patrol.