Port Hardy RCMP launched a dramatic intervention and arrested the driver of a fishing boat, after he was found travelling in circles on the water asleep at the helm.

“It was determined that the boat operator was grossly impaired and an open container of liquor was located nearby,” said S/Sgt Wes Olsen. “There was another male found sleeping in the hold of the fishing vessel who was intoxicated as well.”

The arrest on Nov. 29 followed a morning call to police from the Marine Authority in Port Hardy reporting a fishing boat, roughly 10 metres in length, being operated in an erratic manner in the port.

By the time officers arrived, RCMP said, the vessel had left the bay area and was sighted about six kilometres north of Port Hardy circling in the same spot on the open water.

“With the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, two Port Hardy RCMP members were transported out to the circling vessel,” said Olsen. “They were able to observe a male seated at the helm of the vessel, but he appeared to be slumped over and non-responsive.”

RCMP said the Coast Guard vessel blew its horn trying to get the operator’s attention, but it didn’t work.

The boat was still travelling in circles to the right “quickly” and officers were concerned about the well-being of the driver, so the team decided to board the vessel to bring it under control.

“The Coast Guard vessel came alongside the fishing vessel,” detailed Olsen, “trying to match its speed and turning radius which proved difficult due to the large wake being put off by the fishing vessel.”

Eventually police said the Coast Guard managed to get close enough, allowing one officer and one Coast Guard member to jump onboard.

That’s when RCMP says its members determined the driver was impaired and found another intoxicated man in the boat too.

The driver has since been arrested for impaired operation of a vessel. He was also taken to hospital for an examination “due to his extreme level of intoxication,” said RCMP.

His identity has not been released.