Boaters rescued off Vancouver Island after fleeing burning vessel
Two people are safe after their 14-metre vessel caught fire and sank in rough seas off the north end of Vancouver Island.
The operators of the 14-metre pleasure craft issued a mayday call over marine radio around 1:30 p.m. Monday, according to a spokesperson for Canada’s Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC).
Military and coast guard personnel at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria were unable to locate the source of the distress signal and subsequent attempts to make contact over the emergency channel went unanswered.
Coincidentally, a floatplane pilot who happened to be over the area spotted a large vessel burning near Egg Island, B.C., and called authorities to report that two people were in a rowboat apparently heading for shore.
A Buffalo search-and-rescue plane and a Cormorant helicopter were dispatched from Canadian Forces Base Comox, and the floatplane circled the scene for nearly an hour before the first rescuers arrived.
The Buffalo aircraft was first on scene and dropped a radio and a sea-rescue kit, including a life raft, down to the rowboat, according to MARPAC spokesperson Sub-Lt. Joshua Ehnisz.
A pair of coast guard vessels stationed two hours away in Port Hardy, B.C., were also sent to the scene.
The rescue plane remained over the area while the helicopter was re-routed after determining the two lifeboat occupants were the only people aboard the stricken vessel when the fire broke out.
A fishing boat picked up the two survivors approximately 15 minutes later. The duo were eventually transferred to a coast guard vessel and taken to Port Hardy.
The stranded boaters were uninjured and did not require medical attention, according MARPAC. Their 14-metre pleasure craft burned and sank as the coast guard arrived.
Ehnisz estimated the seas were 4.5 metres high at the time of the rescue.
Egg Island is approximately 40 kilometres north of Vancouver Island.