After he helped two people who capsized in the Skookumchuck Narrows rapids on Nov. 1, kayaker Spencer Jones is speaking out about boat safety.
Jones was camping on an island in the narrows when a couple in a small boat waved to him from the water. The narrows was at maximum current – about 12 knots or 20 kilometres per hour on the water, he told Coast Reporter– and Jones could tell they weren’t able to see the rapids ahead from their position.
He watched as they hit the first wave, and then as their boat was pushed sideways by the second wave and flipped.
Jones got into his kayak to paddle to the boaters as fast as he could. It took approximately 10 minutes for him to reach the first boater in the middle of the channel. She grabbed a hold of the kayak as Jones paddled towards her partner, who was still with their boat, closer to shore.
The trio were able to call out to people on a nearby government boat, who provided dry clothes to warm the boaters and transported them to a Search and Rescue crew. The pair were then taken to Sechelt by boat to be treated for hypothermia.
Jones, a North Vancouver resident who spends about 40 days a year paddling in the Skookumchuck area, said he wanted to help raise awareness about the dangers of the area.
“You have to know about the currents and have to be very confident in your boating abilities to go through there safely,” he said.
After the incident, Jones said he tried to find out if he needed to report it, but discovered that reports are only taken when a serious injury or a loss of over $1,000 occurs.
“I feel like a lot of boating accidents go unreported up there,” he said.
Since the Nov. 1 incident, Jones was able to meet up with the boaters he helped, and they gave him a small gift as a gesture of thanks.
“It was nice to see them in good spirits,” he said.