July 15 was a busy day for ferries travelling to and from Saltspring, Thetis and Penelakut Islands.
Not only were both the Crofton-Vesuvius and Chemainus-Thetis Island-Penelakut Island routes behind schedule due to peak demand, they were also delayed due to a marine rescue.
Crews from the MV Kuper and Howe Sound Queen responded to a mayday call from a boat in distress near Tent Island, just south of Penelakut Island.
“Both vessels were contacted by the Joint Rescue Command Centre,” said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “There was a 38-foot pleasure craft that was calling to request assistance.”
The Ferries crews were first to the scene. They located the vessel and were able to tow it to a safe position.
“It was getting too close to the island,” Marshall added.
The coast guard arrived on scene and stood BC Ferries crews down, taking over the operation just after 4 p.m.
“We appreciate the patience of our customers when there’s an incident, because our response generally results in a delay for them,” said Darren Johnston, BC Ferries’ Director of Fleet Operations. “We find it is one occasion when our customers can appreciate why we’re late.”
BC Ferries officials said it was one of four marine incidents its crews responded to between July 14-16.
Also that weekend, rescuers from the Coastal Renaissance spotted an unoccupied zodiac near Snake Island off the Nanaimo Harbour area and investigated to ensure there was nothing wrong. Crew aboard the MV Kahloke launched its rescue boat to assist a pleasure craft unable to move, and remained in the area until Canadian Coast Guard arrived. The Queen of Nanaimo also did double duty, launching its rescue boat to save seven people from a boat that had run around as well as retrieving two canoeists from the waters off the Tsawwassen terminal and taking them ashore for further care.
Johnson said in an average year, BC Ferries’ vessels respond to approximately 125 marine emergencies, “from providing visual confirmation of a situation, to recovering people from the water and applying advanced first aid treatment.”