Coast guard hovercraft damaged in collision with sailboat off B.C. coast
A Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft sustained damage after colliding with a sailboat near Salt Spring Island on Monday evening.
The hovercraft CCGS Siyay was transporting advanced life-support paramedics to Ganges Harbour to medevac a patient to Vancouver around 5:45 p.m.
Coast guard officials say the craft was travelling at eight knots – approximately 15 km/h – in the harbour when an unlit sailboat that was anchored outside the common anchorage area suddenly appeared in front of the vessel.
"The captain of the Siyay was able to perform an emergency maneuver and avoid direct contact with the sailboat," coast guard spokesperson Kiri Westnedge said in a statement Tuesday.
"However, there was contact on the starboard side of the hovercraft and the bowsprit of the sailboat (a spar that extends from a sailboat’s bow)," she added.
Westnedge says the sailboat was not detected on the hovercraft's radar.
No one was aboard the sailboat when the vessels collided. The paramedics and the seven-person hovercraft crew were uninjured in the crash, according to the coast guard.
The rescuers were able to complete the medevac to Vancouver.
"We are assessing the damage to the hovercraft," Westnedge said. "The lifeboat station remains ready to respond to search and rescue incidents. We are also attempting to locate the owner of the sailboat."
The coast guard says it regularly provides medevac services, including via hovercraft, "in situations where access to a location is over challenging terrain, or it is faster or easier to respond via water."
The Siyay, measuring 28.5 metres long and 12 metres wide, is one of four hovercrafts operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. It is capable of travelling up to 50 knots – or 93 km/h – over water, and can also travel over ice and land.