Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why we don't yet paddle at Trial Island

Our paddle group hasn't been to Trial Island yet.
It's only a few hundred metres off-shore. You can see the island and little islands around it from Beach Drive.
We've been warned by experienced kayakers about the currents there. One day we'll go, when we've checked the tides and currents and have had more practise with handling currents and waves.
But on Sunday, Sept 12 while we had a bathtub paddle in Portage Inlet, a father and son went fishing in an aluminum boat off Trial Island. Just about when we were finding jelly balls that looked like clear egg yolks in the shallow water, these two men and their golden retriever tipped over.
To be fair, their motor had stalled just before they were struck by the wake of another passing ship. All three were in the water without PFDs. And the one with a cell phone had the dickens of a time making a 911 call, trying to keep his phone dry.
Check out the story at the Times-Colonist newspaper's website.
You can even click on a link to hear the recording of the 911 call.
As Bernie says: "That's why I don't carry our cell phone." Who wants anyone else to hear the recording of an operator telling you to stop screaming?
But hey, I've been working in a call centre for 21 months, listening to calls that are sometimes as garbled as that one. Luckily, the caller hasn't been trying to hold his cell phone above the water during any of my calls. But even with my half-deaf ears, I could pick out "we're in the ocean", "Clover Point" and "Trial Island" in the first few seconds of the call, while the operator was floundering verbally, much like her caller was floundering off-shore.
Hoo-hah. If that operator had been working in my call centre, she'd have had a zero rating on that call, a step three warning and very likely been fired. And we don't handle emergency calls.
After playing the recording several times, the dispatcher sent the police boat (which was currently in the Harbour) out to Trial Island. Within thirteen minutes, they were rescued. I love happy endings.

1 comment:

  1. This story was in the Oak Bay paper with the heading:

    Cell Phone Call Saves Father & Son

    I'm glad Paula and John carry their cell phones with us when we go paddling.