Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Days after losing his boat in a volunteer rescue mission off the shores of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s emergency operations manager is questioning the Canadian Coast Guard.

Elmer Frank says the CCG Tofino Lifeboat Station could have easily responded to a May 1 distress call, but instead left the rescue to other vessels. As a result, Frank’s efforts to save two elderly fishermen with a dead motor ended with his own 21-foot speedboat capsizing.

While everyone made it safely back to shore that night, Frank is scratching his head in confusion.

“It seems like they spend a lot more resources on my dead boat then they did when somebodies’ lives were actually at risk. They had a helicopter go out and do a search for the derelict boat,” he said.

Frank said he had just returned from a day on the water when he received a call from his nephew about a vessel in distress.

“My boat was on land and I had the trailer behind my house. We had to re-hook it up and tow it to Tofino, my brother (Bruce) followed me into Tofino, I had to stop at the fuel station first and get some fuel,” said Frank, who paid for the fuel out-of-pocket.

Frank, in his Princess M, and his brother in another vessel, the Hannah Jay, were able to successfully locate the boat — the Reel Cowboy, which was in mechanical difficulty — and begin a tow.

“The waves were six to eight feet high with white caps on top. Five to six seconds apart makes for rough seas. The gusts were up to 25 knots. It was not good conditions,” said Frank.

A wave came over the stern of the Princess M and filled one of the hatch covers.

“It filled up fairly quickly. It just takes that one wave. The pump wasn’t working so I knew that we had to do something. My batteries were submerged underwater and I knew things were going to start going down and start shutting down,” Frank said. He called the Coast Guard, abandoned his boat, and jumped on to the Hannah Jay.

“Within seconds my boat rolled over and sank,” he said, adding that they were going to tow it but decided to cut it loose and go back for the Reel Cowboy.

In response to the escalating situation, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre dispatched the CCGS Cape Ann and Fast Rescue Craft from Tofino station, who took over the tow when they arrived.

A day later, the Princess M was spotted sinking in the sand at south Florencia Bay in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. On May 5, Parks Canada teamed up with Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks members and Kestrel Helicopter to retrieve the Princess M from the high tide line.

In an email to the Westerly, Canadian Coast Guard communications advisor Michelle Imbeau said the CCG response was based on initial contact stating the Reel Cowboy had broken down an was requesting a tow, but was not in danger. They were requesting a tow due to a mechanical issue. The Coast Guard broadcast a request for assistance on their behalf and the Hannah J and the Princess M responded.

“The Reel Cowboy took the appropriate steps to try to arrange a tow themselves. The Search and Rescue (SAR) system depends on local resources, VOO, including friends and family, to help assist in low risk situations. This way, the Canadian Coast Guard assets are then available for higher risk, life threatening SAR situations,” continues the CCG statement.

Imbeau went on to note that the MCTS had clear and constant communication with the Reel Cowboy and that when the Reel Cowboy indicated that they had assistance coming, Coast Guard had no way of knowing how long the vessels would take to respond.

According to the CCG, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) had a number of incidents along the coast on May 1. Two of the calls were life threatening incidents.

According to Parks Canada, Frank’s derelict boat is not believed to have caused any significant impacts to the environment.

“The decision to use a helicopter to remove the vessel means the removal process is quick and has a lower environmental impact than other options available to the park reserve,” says Parks Canada communication officer Emma Badgery.

While Frank expressed his appreciation for the support he’s received from Parks Canada to salvage his boat, his concerns for how CCG responded to the May 1 incident persist.

“[Tla-o-qui-aht] are a volunteer emergency search and rescue. We use our own equipment most of the time. People know to contact us when there is no response from Coast Guard, and there have been a few instances where we’ve had to wait and go through the bureaucratic process,” he said.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Two B.C. Indigenous Coast Guard auxiliary units receive big financial boost

READ: Nine derelict vessels to be removed from Ucluelet Inlet as part of massive $2.5M cleanup effort

Canadian Coast GuardSearch and RescueTofino,

Just Posted

The Williams Lake Stampede Association will crown a new queen, and potentially a princess, during the Williams Lake Stampede Royalty coronation on Saturday, June 26. Vying for the title are Miss Williams Lake Lions Kennady Dyck (from left), Miss Peterson Contracting Ltd. Karena Sokolan and Miss MH King Excavating Bayley Cail. (Photos submitted)
New Williams Lake Stampede Queen to be crowned June 26

“It was jump in right away all the way,” Wessels said of getting the program up and running

As the province moves to lift some COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Williams Lake will be opening up its city council meetings to the public, beginning June 22. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Public attendance on the agenda once again for Williams Lake city council meetings

Residents will be permitted to attend meetings in person beginning June 22

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society invites residents in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel to participate in “Free Your Things” taking place over the Father’s Day weekend. (Mary Forbes photo)
Cariboo Conservation Society co-ordinating “Free Your Things” Father’s Day weekend

Residents can sign up if they have items they want to give away

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake high school teacher valedictorian for TRU virtual graduation ceremonies

Jonathan Harding is graduating with a master of education degree

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read