Yesterday evening, 20 March, around 8:45PM, the 9-1-1 Communications Centre received a call from a man on board a boat just outside the South Sound Channel. The man reported that the boat’s engine would not start and that they needed assistance to get to shore. Altogether, three men were on board the vessel, which was described as a ten foot aluminum boat. The man stated that the boat was a small, low vessel, but that it was not taking on water. 9-1-1 informed the caller that marine officers were not on the water at that time, however they would immediately look into providing necessary assistance.
The 9-1-1 Communications Centre immediately contacted police and the Joint Marine Unit, and marine officers off duty were called in to assist. Port Authority was also contacted, and shortly after 9PM, a call was issued over VHF radio to all mariners of a boat in distress in South Sound. At 9:05PM marine officers were en route to the Marine Base to prepare a Marine vessel to launch. Over the next half hour, 9-1-1 operators and Marine officers made contact with the men in the boat and advised them that efforts to get a vessel on the water to assist them were underway, but that civilian boats may also be called to assist.
During these calls police and 9-1-1 were informed that one of the men on the boat had stepped on a hook and received an injury to his foot. The men also stated that they had lights on the vessel but no life jackets, and that the waves were picking up.
Around 9:30PM, marine officers were trailering a vessel to South Sound to be launched when they spoke by mobile phone with a man on the boat who informed them that the boat was being towed to shore and they were no longer in need of police assistance. Police called the men again and learned that they were onshore; the man with an injury to his foot was thereafter transported to the hospital by private vehicle.
“We appreciate the assistance that was rendered to this vessel in distress by a member of the public,” said A/Supt. Ebanks, Head of Specialist Operations. “Enlisting the aid of other mariners is a regular practice, as marine officers are not on duty 24 hours a day. We respond to emergency situations, but response at times when marine vessels are not already on the water will take longer. Therefore it is appreciated when other mariners respond and assist; additionally, boaters should always have life jackets, lights and communications devices, both radio and telephone, and thoroughly check weather reports before heading out to sea.”