The Coastal Celebration just happened to be in the right place at the right time on Monday night, coming to the rescue of a boater near Moresby Island.
“We did receive a mayday call from a person who was on a 24-foot aluminum vessel that was in distress,” BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said. “It was actually sinking.”
The captain responded, rerouting the vessel in between Portland and Moresby Island. Passengers on board the five o’clock sailing were alerted that a rescue attempt was in progress.
Robin Junger jumped out of his truck to take a look, capturing some of it on video.
“It was completely dark, 90-kilometre-an-hour winds, massive waves,” he said. “We were discussing: could the coast guard get there in time? Because we thought maybe the BC Ferries guys couldn’t go out – the weather was that bad.”
They were wrong. Within minutes, a BC Ferries rescue boat was deployed with three crew members in survival suits. They managed to make their way to the boater, bringing him on board just in time.
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“It went down seconds or a minute or whatever after he was plucked from it,” Junger said. “This guy wouldn’t have made it without them–I’m very confident of that.”
It’s a situation crew members train for–running drills on a regular basis. Still, there have been two incidents in the past year during which employees were injured in an exercise.
Marshall said it just goes to show the severity of the risk.
“They training definitely pays off,” she said. “It really becomes ingrained; it becomes second nature to the crews when they hear those alarm bells ring. And they just jumped into action last night and they did save this gentleman.”
The boater was brought into the Swartz Bay government dock, where emergency crews were waiting to take him to hospital.
The whole experience left an impression on many passengers–Junger included.
“I’m pretty impressed,” he said. “I think people should be pretty thankful and know that when they’re on the ferry, they have people who have that type of training.”