News

Water tragedy underscores need for boating safety

This boat spawned a response from the local search-and-rescue team.  - RCMSR photo
This boat spawned a response from the local search-and-rescue team.
— image credit: RCMSR photo

The local volunteers on the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue team are reminding boaters to wear their personal flotation devices whenever they’re on board a vessel.

Brian Hobbs said whether you’re a strong swimmer or can’t swim at all, you should always wear a life vest as the fast-moving current of the Fraser River can prove deadly at the best of times.

Last weekend was a tragic one, as the local crew was busy again, raising the number of hours logged on missions to nearly 20 in just a couple of weeks.

It’s the start of the boating season, and as the weather warms up and summer nears, more people take to the waterways.

“These missions have included three people stranded by the quickly-rising tide on Shady Island, multiple incidents of poorly prepared vessels, and the intensive search for the missing boater,” Hobbs said, referring in the latter case to a man missing and presumed drowned after falling from a boat while trying to free it from a log boom.

Hobbs said the man and a male passenger were in the boat when they ran out of fuel Saturday night. They were attempting to return to where they’d launched, from a dock in Delta across the Fraser River from the Shelter Island Marina.

The local volunteers were tasked around 9 p.m. to refuel the vessel, but while they were on their way, a person on that pleasure craft fell into the water, Hobbs said. He wasn’t wearing a life vest and despite efforts by the Coast Guard, police and fire crews, that stretched into the early morning hours, his body wasn’t found.

Hobbs said that in many incidents, boaters aren’t wearing their personal flotation devices, and in some cases, there are no life vests on the boat at all.

He also advised that when people are out on the water, they inform someone—such as a loved one—of their plans, in the event something goes wrong.

In one recent incident near the Shelter Island Marina in East Richmond, the search-and-rescue team was dispatched to check on a boat anchored off shore.

Concerns were expressed about whether the boat might have been adrift, or if the occupant was injured.

As it turns out, the boat was locked tight, and the owner had taken a dinghy to shore, but failed to inform anybody.

For more information about search-and-rescue, to obtain a guide, or to arrange a boating safety presentation at your local marina, e-mail Station 10 at info@station10.org.

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