A boater on Howe Sound was likely very glad to see the sight of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, Station 4 volunteers headed out his way over the weekend.
The local marine volunteers received a mayday call just after 5 p.m. on Saturday for a man adrift in a small dinghy in strong Squamish outflow winds, RCMSAR deputy station leader Scott Shaw-MacLaren told The Chief.
The man, who made the distress call on his cell phone, was somewhere between Squamish Terminals and Darrell Bay when the call came in.
When the small, hard-bottomed dinghy was spotted, it had drifted nearly a nautical mile from its last reported position.
The wind was blowing at about 25 knots.
The boater, who was wearing a life jacket, only had one oar when the RCMSAR team of five arrived.
The man had no hope of reaching shore on his own and the next stop would have been the Strait of Georgia, if the dinghy managed to stay upright through the up to metre-high seas south of Watts point, according to an RCMSAR post on the team's Facebook Page.
"When you are up close to shore, the waves aren't very big, but as he went further and further south, the waves were getting bigger and bigger," Shaw-MacLaren added.
"He managed to keep most of the water out of the boat, but it was good that we recovered him because there was certainly no way that he could control it, and if he got out around and past Watts Point, generally we know the waves would have been considerably larger as he got down further south."
The man was back onshore, safe and sound within an hour of the distress call. He did not need medical treatment.
Shaw-MacLaren's advice for boaters is to remember that with colder temperatures, the wind is more powerful and it has more energy — so you are going to drift faster. But also, when it is cold, you certainly risk hypothermia when you are wet or out on the water," he said. "Be aware of how quickly things can go wrong."
Shaw-MacLaren also said while people's first instinct is to call 911, that isn't always the quickest way to get help when out on local water.
"That is fine if that is all you can think of, but calling the rescue centre directly, if you are out on Howe Sound, results in a faster response."
Use 1-800-567-5111 or *16 or text #727 (SAR) on a cell phone.
Recently, the Squamish marine rescuers were also involved in the search for the still missing Darcy Wild, who has not been heard from since Sept. 24.
"We sent out a crew to search Howe Sound," Shaw-MacLaren said. But to no avail.
As the search area has already been covered, rescuers are waiting for instructions from police about if and when to resume.