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Vancouver - Sailor's Death a Reminder of Dinghy Danger

By Sue Richards last modified Jan 26, 2012 11:09 AM

Published: 2012-01-26 11:09:37
Topics: Safety and Medical
Countries: Canada

As reported by Cruising Compass

It’s something that all sailors do: row their dinghies to and from shore, rarely while wearing a life jacket. But even though there doesn’t appear to be much danger, there are many stories of dinghy accidents that could have possibly been prevented. It’s a good reminder to all to always use plenty of precautions.

It started as a mystery and ended with an all-too-familiar explanation. The long-time sailor had rowed his dinghy to his yacht in high winds and without a life jacket, probably because the anchor was dragging, then lost his footing and was drowned in the turbulent seas, his dinghy tied to the yacht but found upside down.

Good sailors prepare for the worst when sailing, but the focus is usually on what can happen at sea. The simple dinghy trip between shore and yacht is vastly underrated as a source of danger, with too many incidents that result in either drowning or being swept to sea.

The Canadian sailor was unable to be revived after he was recovered from the stormy water in Ganges Harbor in Vancouver Island on Sunday. The coast guard received a report of a sailing vessel adrift at 11:47 a.m. and a nearby resident said the boat was banging against his dock.

The vessel had apparently dragged its anchor in Sunday’s wind storm. Winds in the area at the time were blowing more than 35 knots. The Joint Rescue Coordination Center put out a call to vessels in the area and Eagle Eye Marine, towing for Vessel Assist, was first on the scene with its 35-foot tug.

It was a “boat adrift” mission that quickly changed to “a person in the water mission,” said Eagle Eye owner Nick Boychuck.

“He was floating close to shore, so I hopped on our high-speed response boat with my wife and we grabbed the guy and took him to the government dock,” Boychuck said.

The couple, with 15 years experience conducting such rescues and recoveries, told the Times Colonist that they were not optimistic the man they found in the water without a lifejacket could be revived but immediately began chest compressions.

“But you always want to hope,” Boychuck said.