Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) Pacific Unit 12 - Halfmoon Bay spent over 28 hours on the water attending to search and rescue (SAR) incidents, training and assisting with community events over the Canada Day long weekend.
June 29 began a parade of events on a positive note as CCGA 12 acted as a safety vessel and escort for the 10 crews paddling as part of the Pulling Together canoe journey. Their voyage began in Powell River. CCGA 12 joined them in Egmont to escort them through the Skookumchuck Narrows and down Sechelt Inlet. The 3 a.m. wake-up call for the CCGA 12 crew and subsequent 12-hour day on the water, which included helping out various members of the media and transporting several ill paddlers, was just the beginning of what was to follow on the weekend.
Ongoing training is always a key component for CCGA 12's volunteers, explained HMB unit media liaison Kellei Bulmer. On Friday two different crews participated in on-water training exercises.
Saturday morning saw the CCGA 12 rescue Zodiac 753 join in the Sechelt Canada Day parade. As the parade ended, the vessel was launched back into the water and almost immediately dispatched to a mayday signal -a vessel taking on water in the Sargent Bay area.
"It was a bit of a confusing situation," said CCGA 12 member Scott Baker. "We still haven't compiled the full report yet, but basically, the operators of the vessel managed to anchor safely in Buccaneer Bay and a friend in another boat arrived to give them assistance. The source of the water intake was never determined."
Baker said no one was hurt in the incident.
Sunday saw the same crew out again with yet another SAR incident after a kayak was found adrift in Sechelt Inlet. "While out with a group of divers in the inlet, Porpoise Bay Dive and Kayak spotted the single kayak," said Bulmer. "Owner/operator Kal Helyer contacted Comox Coast Guard immediately and went on to help by relaying radio communications (which are limited in Sechelt Inlet). "This resulted in a large-scale search for the missing kayaker including several vessels in the area, other kayakers, CCGA 12 and a rescue helicopter."
Bulmer said key information provided to the CCGA12 crew by people on shore gave an exact time the kayaker was last seen.
"By this point it had been determined that his kayak had drifted off the beach with the rising tide and he had decided to attempt to walk back to Sechelt," she added. "Based on the information from the people on shore the rescue helicopter spotted the individual and he was able to make it down to the beach where he was rescued by the CCGA 12 crew and transported, along with his kayak, back to the Porpoise Bay dock."
Bulmer said the search and subsequent rescue took almost eight hours. But the day wasn't over for the CCGA 12 volunteer crew. Later that evening, they were paged yet again to provide a medical evacuation, but were eventually told to stand down when the decision was made to use a Medivac helicopter instead. "With three SAR calls, regular training and a 12-hour community event spanning only four days, this weekend has gone down in the records as one of the busiest weeks in CCGA 12's history," added Bulmer.