PORT McNEILL—A fishing vessel hauling a load of lumber was kept from capsizing thanks to the quick response of BC Ferries and several other responders in the waters off Port McNeill Monday morning.
The PC Raider, a 36-foot, aluminum gillnetter was traveling just off Ledge Point en route from Port McNeill to Sointula when its load apparently shifted, threatening to capsize the vessel and prompting a call that was picked up by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria.
“It was listing pretty severely, about 45 to 50 degrees,” a JRCC spokesperson said. “Without help, it was going to be in a bit of a pickle.”
That help was quick to arrive.
The BC Ferries vessel Quadra Queen II, en route from Sointula to Port McNeill, was closest to the scene and launched its rescue inflatable, which reached the stricken boat at 11:17 a.m.
It was supported three minutes later by the fishing vessel Sea Harvester, which was equipped with a crane and winch. Working together with crew aboard the PC Raider, the Sea Harvester was able to stabilize the boat until crews from the Port Hardy Coast Guard station and the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 50 in Port McNeill arrived with pumps.
“We were on the water and headed towards them by 11:20 a.m.,” said Aaron Frost of RCM-SAR Unit 50. “There were three private vessels helping them out. The boat was tied to a larger vessel, and because he did that he didn’t sink.”
Once enough water was removed to allow the PC Raider to float level again, it was towed on to Sointula by the tugboat Grapple, which was performing contract work for BC Ferries at its Sointula dock.
The JRCC also dispatched vessels from the to assist. Together, they teamed up with the contracted tug to tow the PC Raider to Sointula.
“The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre stood down our rescue boat at 11:35 a.m.,” said Deborah Marshall of BC Ferries. “They knew we had passengers and vehicles aboard the ferry and wanted to get us on our way.”
Marshall said the incident put the Quadra Queen II off schedule by about 40 minutes.
“Any time we can help any mariner in distress, we’re not only obligated, but happy to do so,” said Marhsall. “This was a lot of people coordinating for a very happy outcome.”
Frost said the call-out was the first for the RCM-SAR unit, which is tasked with assisting the Coast Guard, since the Coast Guard’s seasonal In-shore Rescue Station in Telegraph Cove closed for the summer.