Eric Dahli of the Cadboro Residents Association and the Dead Boat Society stands next to a derelict boat that stranded late January. It has remained there since, and Dahli fears strong winds expected for Sunday will push more on land. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Saanich’s Caddy Bay bracing for more stranded boats with wind warning

Environment Canada predicts winds of up to 80 km/h by Sunday night

Residents of the Greater Victoria area including Saanich’s Ten Mile Point area are bracing for winds of up to 80 kilometres per hour after Environment Canada issued an alert early Sunday morning.

According to the warning, an “intense front” will approach the south coast tonight bringing strong winds and heavy rain. The warning predicts that winds will strengthen through the day today and reach up to 80 [kilometres per hour] over exposed coastal areas tonight.

“Oh God, the bay will be busy today,” said Eric Dahli of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association when informed of the wind warning issued Sunday morning.

RELATED: Ship stranded in Saanich’s Caddy Bay back in the water

The area with its crescent-shaped beach faces southeast and has seen its fair share of boats pushed onto land. Almost exactly a year ago, wind pushed a 42-foot Ketch onto the beach, drawing a small but steady crowd of visitors hardy enough to brave the strong winds. Over the years, dozens of boats have washed up during strong wind events.

Dahli said as of Sunday morning, some 18 vessels remained anchored in the bay. For many boat owners, Cadboro Bay has become an unsafe moorage during the winter, a point underscored late last week, when strong winds pushed a boat onto the beach. Thankfully, an area resident was able to spot the boat, and alert its owner, who then managed to get the boat back into the water thanks to high tide, said Dahli.

While area residents have developed an early warning system and other measures to minimize the environmental and navigational hazards that derelict and abandoned boats have caused, two such vessels remain stranded on the beach, one on the Saanich side, the other on the Oak Bay. In fact, the boat on the Saanich side has been on the beach for almost eleven months now.

RELATED: Wind warning in effect for Greater Victoria

Earlier this year, strong winds also caused considerable damage to parts of the boardwalk in Sidney, with waves pushing logs and other debris onto land.

Finally, strong winds have in past knocked out power to tens of thousands of people in the area. Earlier this year, two windstorms left much of Ten Mile Point in the dark for hours, if not days, with perhaps worse to come. A recent report from B.C. Hydro for example finds that storm and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change, leading to more damage to the electrical system and outages for customers. According to the report, the number of customer outages during major storm events has increased by about 265 per cent from 323,000 customers in 2013 to 1.18 million in 2017.

RELATED: Storm snuffs out lights on Saanich’s Ten Mile Point

For Dahli, a long-term resident of the area, such events are of course nothing new, and over the years, residents have worked with B.C. Hydro to prevent power outages as best as possible by keeping powerlines clear.

This said, such measures can only go so far.

“Many of us also have camping equipment,” he said.

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