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.
On Canada Day both Lifeboats conducted safety patrols throughout the day.
Fraser L/B started at 09:00 and immediately became aware of a large amount of debris in the water from the Freshet. The crew discovered a vessel aground off Kirkland Island, and the details were called into Coast Guard Radio and Rescue Centre was advised. Two pax were on board and another in a small RHIB. The tide was too low to help and advised we would check again later. The patrol continued to Shelter Island at which time Coast Guard Radio asked if we could go back and check on their status. The Fraser L/B arrived back on the scene and assessed the situation, a tow was offered; however, the persons now declined and said they would wait for the higher tide and float off.
Delta Lifeboat relieved the Fraser Lifeboat at 1300 to conduct a safety patrol on the Fraser River, between the tunnel and Sandheads. The weather was poor with light rain and a 10 knot SE wind. This obviously greatly reduced the number of recreational boaters that would normally be out.
During her patrol, Fraser had sighted a small vessel aground off Kirkland Island but not requiring assistance.
Later, the Coast Guard requested a status report and following a search of the area Delta L/B was able to advise that the vessel was no longer in the area and had obviously refloated and departed.
Delta L/B proceeded to Sandheads and later returned to Ladner at 1830.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most sporting events have been cancelled. However, the Royal Naval Sailing Association’s annual Single Handed Yacht Race did take place on 06 Jun 2020 in partnership with the West Vancouver Yacht Club, normally racing from Vancouver to Nanaimo and return.
This year’s race was shortened with strict personal safety in mind.
The Delta Lifeboat” has served as safety vessel for the race for 42 years and this year’s assistance was given to a 38′ yacht that suffered a rigging malfunction. The sock for the spinnaker got stuck at the top of the mast and it was impossible to contain or lower the spinnaker.
The Lifeboat launched her RHIB and two crew members transferred to the yacht to assist the lone skipper. With no other option left to resolve the situation, they winched him up to the masthead to effect repairs.
On completion, the RHIB returned to the Lifeboat. The yacht retired from the race and returned to harbour under power.
The Lifeboat continued to follow the race back to Point Gray to ensure all participants were safe.
The race over, transit was made back to the Ladner Lifeboat Station ending a 12-hour deployment.
Owing to the current situation the crew was restricted to 5 members and safety protocols were in place.
The day’s weather had been variable starting with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and winds from 10-20 knots. It cleared later to sunshine and pleasant 10-knot wind.
Even with all the restrictions and the shortened course, 50 yachts enjoyed a fantastic race and the Delta Lifeboat crew proved their worth. “BZ”.
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).