It started as a mystery and ended with an all-too-familiar explanation. The long-time sailor had rowed his dinghy to his yacht in high winds and without a life jacket, probably because the anchor was dragging, then lost his footing and was drowned in the turbulent seas, his dinghy tied to the yacht but found upside down.
Dinghy - danger just a slip away when everything goes wrong at once
Good sailors prepare for the worst when sailing, but the focus is usually on what can happen at sea. Dinghy Danger - The simple dinghy trip between shore and yacht is vastly underrated as a source of danger, with too many incidents that result in either drowning or being swept to sea (See stories below).
The Canadian sailor was unable to be revived after he was recovered from the stormy water in Ganges Harbour in Vancouver Island on Sunday.
The coast guard received a report of a sailing vessel adrift at 11:47 a.m. yesterday. A nearby resident said the boat was banging against his dock.
The vessel had apparently dragged its anchor in Sunday’s wind storm. Winds in the area at the time were blowing more than 35knots, coast guard officer John Millman told the Times Colonist.
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre put out a call to vessels in the area and Eagle Eye Marine, towing for Vessel Assist, was first on the scene with its 35-foot tug.
It was a 'boat adrift' mission that quickly changed to 'a person in the water' mission,' said Eagle Eye owner Nick Boychuck.
'He was floating close to shore so I hopped on our high-speed response boat with my wife [Celine, a captain] and we grabbed the guy and took him to the government dock,' Boychuck said.
The couple, with 15 years experience conducting such rescues and recoveries, told the Times Colonist that they were not optimistic the man they found in the water without a lifejacket could be revived but immediately began chest compressions.
'But you always want to hope,' Boychuck said.
The Ganges Coast Guard ship Cape Naden, returning from a call in Victoria, arrived immediately afterwards along with B.C. Ambulance Service and Salt Spring Fire-Rescue personnel. Paramedics continued attempts to save the man’s life.
The victim was brought by ambulance to Lady Minto Gulf Islands Hospital on Saltspring Island, but was declared dead on arrival.
He apparently lived on the boat about 20 years, said Boychuck, who recovered the man's sailor's 26-foot wooden sail boat. 'I don’t know how he fell in the water but his dinghy, when the boat was recovered, was upside down and tied off to the sailboat,' Boychuck said. 'Who knows what he was doing.'
Whether the deceased boater was trying to board or disembark his sailboat is unknown, Boychuck said, and added that he would often see the man, not wearing a lifejacket, rowing in his dinghy to and from his sailboat.
'I knew he rowed out there all the time,' Boychuck said. 'I knew he wasn’t always wearing a lifejacket. We would see him row out there in storms and say ‘what is he doing?' But we didn’t’ see him that day.'
See some of the previous Sail-World Cruising stories on the subject:
Three days adrift: could it happen to you?
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