Eyes On the water
Eyes On the water
The sun breaks through patches in the overcast sky as you speed across the gentle waves of the Okisollo Channel. The salty breeze whips through your hair, and you travel further into blissful seclusion. Imagine this on a beautiful spring day in April. Now, imagine this careless feeling disintegrate with the shocking impact of a rock smashing into the bottom of the boat. That’s just what happened to Campbell River residents Michael and Holly Fin. The pair immediately sent out a mayday call to the Coast Guard, who sent the message to others located in that remote area of the channel.
Nigel Frazee and Anthony Reynolds, salmon farmers for Grieg Seafood, had just sat down for their lunch break when they heard the Coast Guard radio a mayday call. Anthony says they looked at each other, and without saying a word, darted for the door.
“We grabbed the water pump, got into the boat, and radioed the coast guard to say we were just around the corner and we were responding,” Anthony recalls. “When you’re out here in the middle of nowhere, you have to be ready for anything.”
Nigel agrees, “There’s no 911 out here, we just have to help each other out.”
It wasn’t long before the pair found Michael and Holly Fin, whose boat had run into a rock in Okisollo Channel and was beginning to take on water. Nigel and Anthony were quick to use the water pump, and eventually towed the couple to safety across the channel to Diamond Cove. In a letter the pair thanked the farmers for their efforts, “We were so relieved to have their rapid response. Nigel and Anthony were so professional, helpful and calm. We want to express our gratitude to them and to let you know how much we appreciate their assistance.”
“It’s not uncommon for the salmon farmers to help boaters that put out a mayday call,” said Marilyn Hutchinson, Director HR, Sustainability & Growth, Grieg Seafood. “In fact, for the coast guard that’s one of the benefits of farms being located in remote areas. The reality is in many instances they have interactions with kayakers or boaters, but don’t even think to tell us, they just think it’s part of their job.”
Salmon farmers are the extra pair of eyes on the water and will aid any vessel or person in distress, but there are a couple of key things to keep in mind before you head out into remote waterways, including being over-prepared for any situation that may arise. Anthony stresses the he’d “rather bring everything and not need it, then need it and not have it.”
“There are a lot of recreational boaters who come up through remote channels and don’t know the area well,” said Nigel. “Don’t rely on electronic equipment, and have paper maps to guide you. You need to know your safe zones and just use common sense. Make sure you have a radio to call for help in case you get into trouble.”
Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death among Canadians, and can be prevented by having the equipment and knowledge to stay safe when travelling on water. Both Anthony and Nigel agree that for salmon farmers along the B.C. coast helping those who find themselves in trouble is simply all in a day’s work on the farm.