Cowichan and Ladysmith Search & Rescue members teamed up successfully Sunday evening and into early Monday morning to locate two kayakers who had lost their way after departing from the Chemainus River.
Cowichan SAR president Jamie Tudway-Cains said about a dozen Cowichan members started at Hillcrest where the kayakers’ vehicle was parked while Ladysmith deployed about seven members to Mount Sicker Road and they worked toward the middle to find the father and son, who had earlier left a group of experienced whitewater kayakers that included five others.
“They pulled out after paddling one-third of the route,” Tudway-Cains indicated.
The SAR groups were called into action around 7:30 p.m. and spent five hours before tracking them down.
“We found the subjects and walked them out and were done by three in the morning,” Tudway-Cains said.
“This time of year it helped us because of the snow. We were able to follow them because of their footsteps.”
The subjects were cold and tired, but otherwise OK.
“They had their dry suits on, which is good,” Tudway-Cains noted.
Normally, people are told to stay put, but the two thought they knew their way out and kept moving.
“They couldn’t find their way out so they started following the river down,” Tudway-Cains pointed out.
The search did not involve having to go into the water for SAR.
“That night it was just land,” Tudway-Cains confirmed. “With the flow of the river and dark, we would not have put our members in.”
It turned out to be a busy day for Cowichan SAR. During training Sunday, the group was called out to assist the RCMP in Mill Bay. As the team was demobilizing, the call came out to locate the two kayakers who had exited the Chemainus River after losing a kayak and had not been in contact with the remaining paddlers.
Even thought SAR serves such an important role in the Cowichan Valley, the Cowichan group is still seeking a permanent location to set up its gear and welcomes any input from the public about a site.