Two crew members from the Denman Island ferry pulled a woman from the water Tuesday night after she fell from a 30-foot sailboat.
The coast guard asked B.C. Ferries’ Baynes Sound Connector to respond about 6:40 p.m. after receiving a distress message from a vessel.
The crew members launched the ferry’s rescue boat while the ferry remained at the dock in Buckley Bay, from where it sails regularly to Denman Island.
Deckhand Dylan Gale, one of the rescuers, said the woman was about 300 metres from shore and had been in the water for about 40 minutes.
“My understanding is she had fallen in getting into the dingy and then they were unable to get her aboard.”
Emergency-services personnel were standing by onshore when the rescue boat returned.
Gale said it’s a great feeling to help someone in that situation. “It makes you really realize the value in having the rescue boats on the ferries, and having crew that’s trained to use them,” he said. “We’re not doing it all the time but the fact that it makes a difference in someone’s life is pretty important.”
Gale said he wishes the woman well. “The crew here really hopes that she’s doing all right.”
He said he responded to one other rescue call about three years ago but ended up standing down when the person in trouble was located safe.
Tuesday’s rescue put the ferry about an hour behind schedule. “We thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we handled the situation,” B.C. Ferries said.
It said its ships are involved in rescues “from time to time,” with crew members trained to respond to marine emergencies.
A report for the fiscal year 2021-22 said the fleet responded to 17 non-B.C. Ferries marine rescues and 84 medical emergencies, and delayed or added a sailing 76 times to accommodate ambulance transportation.
Other rescues by B.C. Ferries ships in recent years include a June 2020 incident in which the Queen of Oak Bay and the Queen of Cowichan responded to a vessel with three people aboard that was taking on water between Sechelt and Nanaimo.
In June 2019, the Queen of Cumberland and the Spirit of B.C. responded when a canoe capsized near Mayne Island, leaving a man standing on a rock off Helen Point. He was able to swim to shore close by, where he was picked up by a B.C. Ferries rescue boat.
Seven people were on a power boat that went aground in July 2017, also near Mayne Island, when they were brought to safety by crew from the Queen of Nanaimo.