Daring rescue at sea
Jul 17, 2012 / 4:04 pm
Two sailors were rescued off the northern BC coast Tuesday in a dramatic early morning operation in high winds and heavy seas.
The mayday call came on Monday night, after the two men had lost their rudder, engine and sails about 50 kilometres south of the Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.
The joint rescue co-ordination centre dispatched an airplane and a helicopter to the scene after midnight.
"The weather really closed in on them last night," said Capt. Trevor Reid with the Royal Canadian Air Force on Tuesday.
"There were 80-kilometre winds, four-metre seas, and they were also 30 miles south of Haida Gwaii, and it gets pretty severe weather up there from time to time."
Reid said two coast guard ships were also called in to help.
An Alaska-bound Princess Cruise Lines ship, the Star Princess, was also in the area. The ship was used to shield a rescue helicopter from the wind.
Still, the 15-metre boat's damaged masts, loose cables and torn sails meant it was nearly impossible to safely lower a search-and-rescue technician onto the vessel, said Reid.
"What they decided to do instead was send a SAR tech down to the rear of the vessel, and the SAR tech basically swam through these swells to the boat," he said.
The sailors then helped the technician on board, and the men were hoisted onto the helicopter.
They were sent to Port Hardy, though they didn't have any injuries.
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