Two pile drivers are being hailed as heroes after they rescued a fishing boat that was jammed under a pier in the Bella Coola harbour on Monday, Nov. 7.
The risk of the situation was heightened by the fact there are seven fuel pipelines connected to the Columbia Fuels dock at the pier. Had the boat hit them, it could have been a disaster, the operations supervisor for the Bella Coola branch of Columbia Fuels Jordan Prong said.
“The fuel pipes run all the way from the dock to the shore, then underground to a tank farm where I get the fuel to deliver to people in town,” he said.
At around 8:30 a.m. Monday, the Algoma 2 fishing boat was under the dock and ramming into the pilings, said its owner’s husband Carl Schooner.
“We did not know what to do.”
Schooner and his son Carl Schooner Jr. tried jumping on the fishing boat, but it was it was too dangerous because the water was rough, so they got off.
It was at that point the two pile drivers – Kevin Meunier and Adam McConaghy with Heavy Metal Marine – came to the rescue at about 8:45 a.m.
They had previously tied down their rig because the weather was too rough to work and decided to take a drive up the road.
“It was was on our way back that a flashing light caught my eye and we saw all these trucks and commotion at the dock,” Meunier said.
After asking the Schooners if they could help, Meunier and McConaghy ran and got their dozer boat, a small tug, and were on scene in about five minutes.
McConaghy jumped onto the fishing boat while Meunier drove the dozer boat under the dock. Working in tandem, the two were able to tow the boat away.
Meunier said the dozer boat has lots of torque and about seven feet underneath, making it “super” heavy.
Bella Coola RCMP Sgt. Trevor Romanchych took a video of the rescue that he shared with the pile drivers.
He and other officers had shown up at the harbour interested to see the rough weather when they happened upon the scene.
“It was pretty risky – they prevented a lot of damage to the pier and fuel dock. We had winds of 60 to 80 km/h that day and as high as 100 km/h,” Romanchych said. “It was very heroic. Lots could have happened.”
Ryan Starchuk with Local 2404 Pile Drivers, Divers, Bridge, Dock and Wharf Builders, also praised the pair for “eliminating the risk of a catastrophic disaster in a matter of minutes.”
He said had Meunier and McConaghy showed up an hour later it would have been too late, the tide would have raised the boat up and likely damaged the seven pipes containing fuel.
Heavy Metal Marine has been in the area since September removing an old turning dolphin at the ferry dock and putting in a new water break in the marina, said Meunier.
As for their efforts on Monday, he said they did not realize the magnitude at first but once they did they knew it was ‘go time.’
“Those guys are amazing,” Schooner said, adding it was a sketchy job working so close to the fuel lines.
“The boat got some damage but it is fixable. We are so happy for these guys coming and lending a hand. Don’t see this much in this world today. My hands go up to them.”
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