On Tuesday, the crew of a BC Ferries vessel rescued a woman who fell over the side of a motorboat and was unable to get back aboard. She survived for an extended period in cold water while awaiting first responders.
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At about 1840 hours, the crew of the Baynes Sound Connector were berthed at Buckley Bay when they got a call for assistance with a man-overboard situation. A woman had fallen into the water while transferring supplies from a racing sailboat into a small rubber dinghy. She was wearing a lifejacket, but not an immersion suit.
Her partner was on board the sailboat when she went in. The boat’s rescue ladder didn’t work, and he was unable to get her out of the water on his own, so he called 911, according to CTV News. The dispatcher contacted BC Ferries for assistance.
The crew of the Baynes Sound Connector launched their rescue boat and were on scene within minutes. “They got to the scene quickly and pulled the person from the water. The person was brought to the shore where emergency services were standing by. The Baynes Sound Connector was delayed by about an hour and resumed service at 7:40 p.m.,” a BC Ferries spokesperson told the Cowichan Valley Citizen. All told, the woman was in the water for about 40 minutes.
“It makes you really realize the value in having the rescue boats on the ferries, and having crew that’s trained to use them,” crewmember Dylan Gale told the Times Colonist. “The crew here really hopes that she’s doing all right.”
The seawater in the Strait of Georgia was about 43 degrees F on the day of the incident, and the 40-minute timespan the survivor spent in the water is near the statistical limit for maintaining consciousness at that temperature. Death is likely in one to three hours, even with a flotation aid.
The cold water of the strait is one of the reasons why BC Ferries’ capabilities are a valuable addition to search and rescue operations in the region. The ferry service can be called to participate in more than a dozen good samaritan SAR responses in a year, plus scores of special-purpose sailings for ambulance transportation.
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Baynes Sound Connector is a unique vessel within the BC Ferries fleet: it is one of the largest cable ferries in operation, and it serves the longest cable ferry run in the world.
Top Image: Baynes Sound Connector (File image courtesy Seeker2 / CC BY SA 4.0)