Both the Fraser and Delta Lifeboats conducted safety patrols over parts of the Labour Day weekend.
On Saturday 5th September 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 0900 till 1400 with the Delta out from 1200 – 1700. 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 1500 Delta 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 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 1700.
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.