Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunday Rescue in Cadboro Bay

I nearly forgot to post this -- there was a rescue in Cadboro Bay Sunday afternoon!
Sirens howled through the windy afternoon, as a firetruck rumbled down Sinclair Road into the parking lot of Gyro Park. Bernie and I found our shoes and followed our neighbour Curtis down to walk along the promenade and find out what all the sirens were for. A fire engine with ladder was there, as were two police cars.
And out in the bay, only about 200 yards offshore, was a small sailboat, belly-up. A person was hanging onto the hull, trying to right the boat. Black-clad, he appeared to be wearing a full-length wetsuit. There was a steady wind of over 25 km/hr and whitecap waves about 15 cm high.
Just as it became apparent that the cluster of firefighters and cops standing onshore were ineffective with their goodwill and telekinesis, a rescue boat roared across the bay. The Royal Victoria Yacht Club keeps a zodiac ready for just such events.
The people in the zodiac assisted the stricken boater with righting the sailboat and getting the spinnaker in place. The zodiac shepherded the sailboat back to the Yacht club, taking about three times as long as usual for the short hop.
This good news rescue is a great reminder for all of us to wear proper gear for immersion. Sunday's wind rose pretty suddenly. And we should keep in mind that it's not only our own cell phones or SPOT beacons or radios that will be used to call for rescue when it's really needed. There are often observers on shore who may or may not call 911.
This can be good news, as on this occasion where assistance was needed or else the boater was going to have to swim for shore and risk getting his sailboat wrecked.
This can also be embarrassing, as on the summer afternoon last year when a neighbour powered up his Pungo motorboat and cruised across Cadboro Bay to offer our paddle group a rescue. We had to admit that no, we were just having a practice session rehearsing our wet exits and recoveries... we weren't in distress. But thank you! And thank goodness he hadn't called emergency services.

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