Wintry conditions keep sea rescuers on alert

High winds during snowstorm force boats apart from moorings

Wednesday’s blast of winter led to a busy morning for members of Oak Bay Sea Rescue.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary group dealt with a trio of sailing vessels which came loose from their moorings in the blustery weather.

“(The wind is) commonly from the south-southeast, or southwest, and it went to a northerly,” said Kim Bentzon, station leader for Oak Bay Sea Rescue.

“When that happens, quite often vessels that are moored or anchored in the bay, they’re basically being pushed in the opposite direction, which can break their anchor loose.”

The rescuers received the first call just before 11 a.m. from the owner of a 35-foot sailboat, which had been moored to a section of dock in Oak Bay near Oak Bay Marina. The anchor had come loose and became tangled with that of another boat. The responders helped the boat’s owner to get it loose and relocate the vessel to a firmer anchor point.

Upon securing the vessel, Bentzon’s crew noticed another sailboat dragging anchor away from its mooring.

“The gentleman was on board, waving at us,” he said.

The 22-foot vessel was bumping up against another boat, so the rescuers took hold of the anchor line and towed it away, securing it to a mooring buoy. The boat’s lone occupant was unharmed, but cold, and requested a ride back to shore.

Adding to the excitement, sea rescue members discovered a third, unoccupied sailboat had run aground on the rocky shore off Haynes Park.

“We leave that until the tide rises and commercial assist or somebody else will have to get him off that,” Bentzon said.

The incidents were a reminder of how vulnerable boats can become when a major weather event occurs, even in a sheltered bay, he said.

There were no reports of significant damage to any of the three vessels.

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