The Ladysmith Auxiliary Coast Guard is reminding people to pack properly after two incidents in as many days.
The auxiliary members were called into action on Sunday, Aug. 14, during the fireworks for Ladysmith Days.
“We enforce the exclusion zones for the fireworks,” said auxiliary member Nick Epp-Evans.
The crew was called out after two kayakers did not return to the Yellow Point area after a trip to Pirate’s Cove.
‘They were overdue, so we were tasked to search the coastline along Yellow Point up to Boat Harbour,” said Epp-Evans.
Ladysmith’s team was not the only one called out. The police boat searched a channel and a team from Nanaimo were also tasked to search.
A Cormorant helicopter was also dispatched to assist with the search.
“The two people were found still on the island (near Pirate’s Cove),” said Epp-Evans.
“They were put on the police boat and taken away.”
After the kayakers were found, the team returned to the fireworks.
The next night, Monday, Aug. 15, the auxiliary members were again called at 10 p.m. when two female kayakers had not arrived at their destination.
“Their intention was to kayak from Tent Island to Salt Spring.”
A report came in they had become stuck on some rocks.
“They were actually found on Secretary Island,” said Epp-Evans.
By the time the auxiliary got there, it was close to midnight.
Being an educational and rescue organization, Epp-Evans said the auxiliary coast guard wants to remind people to take the right gear.
“If either of those kayakers had spent $100 on a marine radio, they’d have known the weather and been in contact with everybody.”
Some of the kayakers were not even equipped with a head torch, said Epp-Evans.
“To see a low kayak at night in the water is very, very, very hard.”
Not to mention, Epp-Evans added, there is a large pricetag to dispatch three boats and a Cormorant for a search.
Bud Bell, owner of Sealegs Kayaks on Transfer Beach, said all kayakers heading into the ocean need to be properly prepared.
Bell said people wishing to rent a kayak without the proper self and assisted rescue training are limited to one hour in a single kayak and two hours in a double.
However, said Bell, even the experienced, trained kayakers can be yahoos and get themselves in trouble by being ill-prepared.
People renting kayaks must also fill out a route map/schedule, checklist and other documentation to ensure their safe return.
While some renters go through the rigors of proper planning and safeguards, there is nothing to regulate the people who buy their own kayaks and hit the water.
Bell said mandatory safety gear should include, a paddle float to help people get back in the boat, a pump, a throw bag that goes on the boat, 50 feet of floating towing line, paddle and spare paddle, flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries. Bell said a flare and radio are also suggested but come with some extra training.
“You can go out and buy a radio, but you’ve got to take a course to learn how to use it.” Same goes for the flares, he said, which are basically an explosive device. The most important thing is a fully charged cellphone with contact numbers, including the coast guard, said Bell.
“Cellphone coverage in our Gulf Islands is very good.”