A kite boarder in distress off Davis Bay beach last Saturday was rescued by two quick-thinking locals while emergency responders waited on shore to help transport him to hospital.
The unidentified man was out kite boarding at around 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 when stormy seas and strong winds got the better of him.
About a mile from shore and unable to get up out of the water, he began calling for help.
Davis Bay resident Gordon Gray heard the kite boarder’s cries and quickly got into his rowboat to offer assistance.
High winds and two-metre waves were challenging to navigate by rowboat, but not enough to deter Gray.
“Sure, it wasn’t the calmest of seas, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and that guy was in distress,” Gray said, noting it takes some time for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue RCM-SAR crews from Gibsons and Halfmoon Bay to get to the Davis Bay location.
“I had my life jacket on, so I wasn’t worried.”
He was able to reach the kite boarder, but unable to get him out of the water.
“I couldn’t get him into the boat so I put a rope around him,” Gray said, noting his “significant other” had called emergency crews for help and they were waiting on shore.
RCM-SAR Unit 14 in Gibsons and a hovercraft from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre were also dispatched and en route.
At about the same time Gray was making his way to the kite boarder, Roberts Creek resident David Burnett was driving by the area with his family.
Seeing a crowd gathered and emergency crews on shore, the former member of Gibsons’ RCM-SAR hurried home, grabbed his boat keys and headed to his 18-foot powerboat moored in Wilson Creek, with his 14-year-old son Julian.
The pair raced out to help.
“When we got there, he was at least half out of the water hanging onto the rowboat. The guy in the rowboat was certainly brave,” Burnett noted.
“We pulled him up into our boat and he was shaking really badly so we covered him with what we had and put him in the recovery position.”
They transported the kite boarder to the beach where members of the Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department were waiting to carry him to a nearby ambulance.
Burnett and his son then returned to the water to search for the man’s gear and deposited what they found on the beach for pickup. Soon RCM-SAR Unit 14 arrived on scene and helped with the gear search.
Burnett said he phoned the hospital “just a couple of hours later” to check up on the rescued kite boarder and was told the man had been released.
He then offered a group of kite boarders in Davis Bay his phone number just in case any of them “get stuck in the future.”
“The Sunshine Coast RCMP would like to extend their thanks to Gordon Gray, David Burnett and Julian Burnett for their assistance prior to the arrival of emergency services,” Const. Ashley Taylor said in a press release about the incident.
“Sunshine Coast RCMP would also like to remind the public of the potential dangers involved in recreational activities during periods of volatile weather.”