Victoria Day Long Weekend Safety Patrols – May 2022

Both FRASER and DELTA Lifeboats conducted safety patrols over the long weekend from 20-23 May 2022. As this was the first long weekend of the boating season we expected it to be fairly busy.

Lots of commercial traffic was observed on 20 and 21 May, with kayakers and very few pleasure boaters out.

On 23 May the Delta Lifeboat responded to a PAN PAN call from a pleasure craft that ran out of fuel off buoy S6 in the Fraser River. It was determined a tow was required to the fuel dock in Steveston as commercial assistance was refused.

Overall, it was a fairly quiet long weekend and we were happy to render assistance where required.

2022 Southern Straits Yacht Race

With the easing of COVID restrictions, the West Vancouver Yacht Club was able to hold its annual classic Southern Street Yacht Race. WVYC requested CLI give safety and communications support for the race and so the Delta Lifeboat transited to Fisherman’s Cove on Thursday, April 14 with a crew of 7 where they were treated to dinner and attended the pre-race meeting.

    Following breakfast, on good Friday the lifeboat transited to Dundarave pier where she came to anchor for the start. Ashore CLI volunteers erected the tent and engaged many of the spectators who had come down to view the start.

    At 10:30 the first division crossed the line en route for their first turn mark at Sisters Islands. The other divisions followed in order to race over long, medium, short and inshore courses.

    After weighing anchor, the Delta L/B set course for Sisters Island keeping pace with the leaders in a rising southeast wind and sea. Monitoring radios and keeping visual watch kept lookouts and plot busy. Heavy rain showers and a cold wind made the half-hour watch changes even more important for the crew to keep everybody alert and warm. Also, experience was gained in all positions.

    Sisters Island was reached at 17:25. The drogue was deployed to reduce drift while hands went to supper while maintaining visual and radio watch. At 19:25 with most of the long course yachts having rounded Sisters, it was decided to cruise slowly to Ballenas Island as both long and medium course yachts would be rounding throughout the night.

    Arriving at Ballenas Island at 21:20 it was decided the best plan of action was to anchor on the east side where a visual watch could be maintained out over the Gulf. The crew went into an anchor / communication watch enabling the off-watch crew to sleep.

    At 03:50 on Saturday morning a call from Race Control alerted the lifeboat that a MOB beacon was being received. Calling all hands the beacon’s GPS position was plotted and JRCC was advised who declared a Mayday.

    Delta L/B weighed anchor following a quick briefing and proceeded to the last known position. At 04:35 JRCC stood Delta L/B down as it was determined the MOB beacon had been accidentally activated and all crew of the yacht ‘Intuition’ were safe and accounted for. Delta L/B returned to the previous anchorage.

    Following colours and breakfast, Delta L/B weighed at 08:10 and proceeded at slow speed to track the races tail end boats. After coming up on them it was decided to travel back with them to the finish line.

    The winds during the night had switched to the N.W. varying between 10-20 knots now with heavy rain clouds over various parts, bright sunny periods were experienced.

    At 13:37, while sailing south of Keats Island, the lookouts reported a RHIB adrift. Closing to investigate it appeared to have broken adrift because the painter was in the water. There was no outboard or oars and nothing but a bailer inside. JRCC was advised and being sure this was not a MOB situation the RHIB was hauled aboard where an investigation showed it was from Bellingham Washington. However, an identification plate marking had been etched out.

    Continuing onto Point Atkinson Delta L/B stood down from race duties and proceeded south to the Fraser River taking green seas in and 18 knots northwesterly.  Delta L/B secured at its lifeboat station 173:7. The crew all performed well maintaining the watch system for 34 hours. Grateful thanks were received from the race committee and Don Smith at Coastguard radio.

Assist to Coast Guard – Feb 2022

As we departed Steveston Harbour this morning, Coast Guard Radio asked us to check for a vessel adrift near the harbour entrance. A semi-submerged skiff was located near the Garry Point Park Fisherman’s Memorial. It still had an outboard motor, fuel tanks, and gear on board, with some floating. The vessel was secured to the shore. Coast Guard took an on-scene report from Fraser Lifeboat and then released us.
The CCG Hovercraft Moytel later arrived on the scene to assess for removal and RCM-SAR 7 was assigned to try and pump out later in the day on a lower tide.

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.

Canada Day long weekend safety patrol – July 2021

The CLI conducted long weekend marine safety patrols with both the Delta and Fraser Lifeboats providing all-day-long coverage. This weekend was fairly busy with more recreational boaters out on the water. Wind warnings were issued for the Strait of Georgia on Saturday 03 Jul 2021 and the crew got to handle moderate swells between Sand Heads and the Iona Jetty off Vancouver International Airport.

On Sunday 04 Jul after checking the area around Sand Heads the Fraser Lifeboat headed back to patrol the river when they noticed a small tug making erratic movements swaying from left to right. Fraser L/B stopped to investigate and were flagged down by the tugboat coxswain who asked for a tow to Steveston harbour because his rudder was not responding to helm corrections. It was either hard starboard or hard port. Fraser L/B took them in tow, but because of the erratic behaviour, the Fraser was pulled left and right and was also fighting the river current. Because of this behaviour, there was a risk of us pulling the tug over; however, by adapting speed they managed to tow the tug to Steveston Harbour. There the tugboat coxswain decided to cut the tow line and use his skiff to pull himself to his mooring dock at which time the Fraser stood down. The tug coxswain advised the tug just had a refit and it looked like the hydraulic line filling the reservoir was undersized causing its steering issues.