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14 people rescued from sinking charter boat near Nanaimo

Multiple vessels responded to mayday call from boat taking on water off of Gabriola Island
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Passengers are transferred to the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Siyay after they were picked up by Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 27 when a charter boat began sinking off of Gabriola Island on the weekend. (Photo courtesy RCM-SAR 27)

Fourteen people aboard a charter boat are safe after the craft they were on started sinking near Nanaimo on the weekend.

The incident happened Sunday, Aug. 15, when a 30-foot charter boat started taking on water and sinking in Pilot Bay, located at the north end of Gabriola Island.

Josh Minami, spokesman for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 27, said the unit was dispatched by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre after a mayday call was broadcast by the charter boat at about 1:30 p.m.

The Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Siyay, C-Tow Nanaimo and three other vessels of opportunity that were in the area also responded and Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department also stood by on land.

“They were taking on water. They were sinking,” Minami said.

B.C. Ferries MV Queen of Alberni was one of three vessels in the area that responded to the mayday.

“We were asked to assist with a vessel in distress near Entrance Island yesterday afternoon,” said Astrid Chang, B.C. Ferries spokesperson. “The Queen of Alberni was travelling from Duke Point to Tsawwassen at the time and we launched our rescue boat, but we didn’t take anyone on board as we were stood down.”

Minami said he was not certain why the craft started taking on water, but it may have been due to a mechanical issue.

The people aboard the charter boat were transferred to nearby vessels until RCM-SAR’s rescue boat arrived, which in turn transferred them to the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft.

No one was injured in the incident.

C-Tow Nanaimo was able to quickly install a high capacity pump onto the charter boat to stop the craft from capsizing and then towed it to Stones Marina where it could be hauled out of the water.

READ ALSO: Fishing trip turns to mayday call after boat founders off island near Nanaimo

READ ALSO: Ferry provides windbreak as rescuers assist sailboat in choppy seas near Nanaimo



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