On Saturday 29th August 2020 while in transit between Sand Heads and Active Pass, the Delta Lifeboat received a signal that a BC Ferry had sighted what appeared to be a sunken vessel barely awash in the ferry lanes. Having been given a good position the lifeboat altered course to investigate.
Coming on the scene it was found to be a small fibreglass vessel, probably about 20’ long with its bow straight down and only about 5’ of the stern sticking vertically out of the water.
Being in US waters, communications were established with US Coast Guard Puget Sound and a situation report was passed. The lifeboat was requested to commence a box search to find any other floating material. A USCG helicopter was tasked from Port Angeles as was a response boat from the Bellingham Coast Guard station.
When the helicopter arrived on scene and radio communications were established, the lifeboat was asked to go alongside the vessel and bang on the hull in case a person was trapped inside. Shortly afterwards the USCG vessel arrived and after passing all known info the Delta Lifeboat was stood down and able to continue on its mission.
While the Canadian Coast Guard was kept fully informed it appeared an incident the night before might be related. A small vessel had been in trouble off Porlier Pass and the hovercraft rescued 2 survivors. Although an attempt was made to save the vessel the tow line parted twice so it was abandoned in rough seas.
It is believed that this vessel, now deemed a hazard to navigation, was the same one now drifting in US waters. Over the next 2 days, dozens of sightings were reported to Coast Guard radio.
A post-incident follow up with the hovercraft base reported the vessel as the S.V Pickle, 12’ in length with a broad beam. The hovercraft was later tasked to recover the vessel and transported it to the Sea Island Coast Guard Base.