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.

Delta L/B Rescue at Steveston Jetty – Sep 2020

 

While normal Saturday training was being conducted off Sand Heads the Delta Lifeboat monitored a radio call to coast guard at 11:53 from the MV Double Eagle.  They reported an 18’ runabout with 6 people on board broken down and swept over the Steveston Jetty.  The weather on scene was wind East at 10 knots, a slight chop and visibility approximately 5 cables in heavy smoke.  The Double Eagle would stay on scene but would not attempt to cross the jetty to assist.

Delta L/B was anchored on the north side of the jetty at Sand Heads having just completed a firefighting exercise.

A call to Victoria Coast Guard Radio advised Delta L/B would respond.  The position of the disabled vessel was given as 1 mile above Sand Heads.

Weighing anchor, Delta L/B proceeded NE along the north side of the jetty as far as the shoaling water would allow.

The subject vessel was plotted on radar at still 1.4 NM away after travelling just over a mile, so before running aground, Delta L/B anchored and launched her RHIB.

Directed in by radio, the RHIB was on scene at 12:27.   It was decided that Delta would proceed back up the river side while the RHIB towed the subject vessel through a gap in the jetty to meet up with Delta L/B, which was achieved at 13:05.

With the vessel in tow and the RHIB recovered Delta L/B proceeded to Steveston.

The subject vessel and 6 survivors were landed at the Steveston boat ramp at 13:50 and the incident closed.

Delta L/B proceeded and secured at the Ladner Station at 14:45.

 

Labour Day Long Weekend Safety Patrols – Sep 2020

Both the Fraser and Delta Lifeboats conducted safety patrols over parts of the Labour Day weekend.

On Saturday 05 Sep 2020, both were on hand in the Fraser River as many recreational vessels left either for the weekend or to fish off Sand Heads.

Whilst maintaining a state on readiness, it was decided to conduct joint search pattern training concentrating on coordinated turns while maintaining a tight formation. This is so important when involved in multi-vessel searches to ensure no gaps are left in the search area.

Monday being the last day of the holiday, it was anticipated that a large number of boats would be returning from the Gulf Islands. And so, both Lifeboats again deployed on safety patrol in the Fraser Estuary. The Fraser Lifeboat patrolled from 09:00 till 14:00 with the Delta out from 12:00 – 17:00. Also, of concern was a wind warning for the area.

Delta ran down to Sand Heads against a 15 to 20-knot wind when it was decided to anchor to conserve fuel close to the S6 buoy where a lookout and radio watch was maintained as returning traffic was increasing.

At 15:00 Delta L/B was tasked by the Rescue Centre to search for two kayaks in trouble off the Steveston Harbour entrance – one person was reported in the water.

The anchor was quickly raised and at best speed a course set for Steveston. An ETA of 30 minutes was passed to JRCC.

The Hovercraft was also tasked with an ETA of 20 minutes. In fact, Delta L/B was on the scene in 24 minutes having beaten some of the currents by navigating close to the shallow sandbanks on the south side of the channel.

Arriving on scene just behind the hovercraft, Delta was tasked to search the harbour entrance, docks and floats to see if the subject kayaks had made it ashore.

Meanwhile, the hovercraft searched along Shady Island before crossing over the river to the Albion Dike where the kayaks and the two adults were found – safe but a bit shaken by the strength of the current and sea state. They were nowhere near their reported position.

The hovercraft transported the rescued adults to Captains Cove where they were landed. Delta’s crew had performed well and done all they had been tasked to do. After being stood down, the patrol was resumed until 17:00.

A sad footnote to this tale is that although perhaps 20 boats had passed through the area, no one responded to the Pan-Pan – perhaps food for thought? But that’s why we do what we do.