March is herring time when the fishing fleet gathers in the Strait of Georgia for the roe herring fishery.
Once again, the ‘Delta Lifeboat’ with her all-volunteer crew onboard sailed from Ladner Harbour to join the fleet in the fishing grounds off the east coast of Vancouver Island between Nanaimo and Comox. Up to 12 Delta-based fish boats take part in this fishery.
This year’s quota of 8,000 tons was down from the 18,000 tons quota for 2019. Close to 90,000 tons of herring were estimated to be in the area during the fishery.
The Delta Lifeboat patrolled and anchored with the fleet out on the grounds where they could respond immediately to any distress calls. During the four days of concentrated fishing, which went on day and night, the lifeboat crew responded to two separate requests for medivac of two fishers from different boats, both with serious hand injuries. The Delta Lifeboat crew provided first aid on-route to Comox where they were transported to the Comox hospital.
A may-day call from a fishing vessel sinking by the bow brought the Delta Lifeboat into action again. They were alongside the distressed vessel in minutes where the situation was stabilized.
These incidents proved the value of the Canadian Lifeboat Institution (CLI) having one of its lifeboats at sea along with the fishing fleet, monitoring radios and maintaining visual watch around the clock rather than being tied up in harbour waiting for a call. In all three of these incidents, the lifeboat was on-scene in under five minutes. Grateful acknowledgement of the Delta Lifeboat crew’s efforts was expressed by Worksafe BC, The Canadian fishing Company and the Canadian Coast Guard.
With the fishery coming to the end, the Delta Lifeboat returned to its station in Ladner Harbour at 15:00 on March 12th.
To all the lifeboat crew ‘BZ’ (Bravo Zulu – a naval term for Well Done).
On Saturday 15 Feb 2020, the Delta Lifeboat conducted crew training in the area known as the ‘Albion Box’ which lies on the south side of the Albion #2 Training Wall. It is a popular fishing area for commercial fishing vessels, but also a place where Recreational vessels sometimes become trapped after losing their way when entering the Fraser River.
The Lifeboats have responded to many incidents in the ‘Box’ over the years even though there is no Hydrographic information on the charts.
The morning exercise, held in heavy rain and fog, was to take sounding and add the information to the appropriate chart for future reference. Two new recruits were able to observe standing procedures onboard and witness several evolutions as well as stand a trick on the wheel. Fraser Lifeboat stayed outside the box and conducted plotting by AIS training for their crew as the Delta conducted its exercise.
After securing back at the Ladner Station, the crew cleaned ship and held a thoughtful debrief. As this was coming to an end, the Ladner Harbour Master advised that he had received a call from a concerned citizen that there was a small vessel requiring assistance in the Captain’s Cove area. There was no other information.
The report was passed to the JRCC who tasked the Delta L/b to proceed and search. The Lifeboat’s RHIB immediately departed to begin the search with the Lifeboat following. The RHIB searched Captain’s Cove and Deas Slough while the Lifeboat conducted a shoreline search of Kirkland Island. After 45 min. with nothing found, the Delta crew was stood down by JRCC and returned to station.
Although nothing was found, it was a most useful training opportunity.
Both the Fraser and Delta Lifeboats provided support to the annual Carol Ships parade in Ladner on Dec 06 and 07. Our vessels were decorated but still able to provide rescue functions if required. The Delta Lifeboat embarked a pipe band this year thrilling the locals as they passed.
On Friday, Dec 06, no calls for assistance were received.
On Saturday, Dec 07, as the Delta Lifeboat approached Wellington point we received a radio call saying there was a broken down vessel who was supposed to be taking part in the parade. One of the other fishing vessels had it alongside close to the North shore.
We quickly deployed fenders, got lines ready and came alongside where we were able to hook up lines 2 and 3. As line 1 was being attached we realized the vessel was very close to the shore, so the first tow vessel was able to cast off and start manoeuvring away. We then towed the broken down vessel away from shore to finish securing lines.
With everything secure, the Delta L/B continued to take part in the parade with the vessel alongside tow on the port side and they spent the night tied up alongside the Delta Lifeboat.
On Saturday 12 Oct 2019, our coxswains received a phone call via a third-party source of a vessel requiring assistance and asked if we could help. A small black pleasure-boat was broken down in Ladner Reach. JRCC was advised of the incident. With 2 coxswains onboard, the Fraser Lifeboat headed to the scene and found the vessel with 3 persons all wearing life-jackets and in good spirits. The vessel was anchored.
Our crew determined that they had run out of fuel, so transferred a small amount to them that is used for our pumps. With the weather turning cold and winds predicted to pick up, the boat was able to get started and headed for Captains Cove Marina to fuel up and then would be hauled out at Ferry Road. Fraser Lifeboat headed back to Steveston base and stood down.
On 02 Sep 2019 the Fraser Lifeboat was conducting a safety patrol at the mouth of the Fraser River near Sandheads. A distress call was received of a sailboat taking on water near Steveston Harbour. As they made dock, Coast Guard did not task us, but left it to our discretion to check on them. We arrived approx 20 mins later and found them tied to Fisherman’s Wharf and slightly low in the water. The crew deployed our portable salvage pump and extricated a fair amount of water. The source of the leak was not found and the vessel decided to head to Ladner Harbour. Coast Guard Radio was advised of what we had done and the vessels intentions. Fraser Lifeboat stood down and returned to the river for further patrols.