Larry Sandberg said he’s no hero, but the two young men he rescued from a sinking boat might disagree.
On Sunday afternoon, Sandberg and his wife had just waited out a dense fog before they put their boat in the water to try and hook some fish out front of Cluxewe (Resort).
But the fog rolled back in, forcing the couple to beach their boat.
That’s when Sandberg, a Port Hardy man who works as the health and safety and first aid guy at Neucel Specialty cellulose, heard a faint, “help” from somewhere out in the fog-shrouded water. Then Sandberg said he heard it again.
“It wasn’t panicked, but the voice said: “Help, we’re both in the water.”
Sandberg had earlier noted a boat with two young men in it, headed for the vast kelp bed off the shore of the resort.
“I could only see out there about 150-ft, but I got a bearing on the sound and headed out,” he recalled.
“We were yelling at the men to keep talking so they could be located in the heavy fog,” said witness Randy Ball, also of Port Hardy.
“Then they said someone had found them.
It was Sandberg who spotted the silhouettes of the men about 100 feet into the kelp bed.
Sandberg turned his 12-ft. aluminium boat to the bed, then shut off his motor to paddle the rest of the distance.
“I saw the back end of the boat upside down and the motor kind of sticking in the air for maybe 15 seconds before the whole thing went under.”
Sandberg said he saw two men, both in their early 20s, were wearing life jackets.
One man, from Sointula, was on the boat, his companion a visiting relative from Toronto — who has a wife and six-month-old baby — was about 12-feet away.
“They didn’t seem like they were panicked, and I talked to them calmly to make sure they stayed in the mental zone they were at,” said Sandberg.
“I told the guy who was chest high in the water standing on the submerged boat to wait until I transferred my weight to the other side of the boat and you roll in.”
That went off without a hitch, and “that was one relieved kid,” said Sandberg.
The other man threw a line to Sandberg who told the men he would attempt to tow their boat to shore.
By that time a couple of Zodiacs appeared to help out.
After making sure the overturned boat was secured to a line, the second man then rolled into the boat and was safe.
Sandberg, his wet passengers and and the towed boat all made it safely to shore.
It was an incredible sight, said witness Ball.
“Out of the fog came Mr. Sandberg’s boat with the two rescued men aboard, towing the upside down boat behind them” he said.
“There was no way they could have righted the boat.”
The men had apparently been casting from the boat for some pinks, when one of the lines tangled in debris.
“Then, in their own words, they said ‘It tipped over like a canoe.’”
For his part, Sandberg said he didn’t want to be made out as some kind of hero. “I’m just glad I was able to help out,” he said.