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Shuswap marine search and rescue helps couple after boat collides with log boom

Boat operator misreads lights marking the tug and log boom, no one injured
Volunteer Allen Langworth with Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station #106 Shuswap on rescue boat Tolonen assists late May 2 as a pleasure boat is towed after being removed from a log boom in Shuswap Lake near Copper Island. Other crew members not pictured were captain Rob Sutherland, Tamara Lansing and Dave Harvey. (Marine Search and Rescue photo)

A dinner out turned into an unwelcome adventure for a couple in the Shuswap.

About 10:30 p.m. May 2, the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station #106 Shuswap received a call regarding a pleasure craft which had collided with a log boom on Shuswap Lake near Copper Island.

Rob Sutherland, station leader, said the couple had come over from Anglemont in their boat to have dinner at Finz restaurant in Blind Bay. When they finished dinner, they began heading back to Anglemont.

“They misinterpreted the lights on the tugboat and log boom,” explained Sutherland.

The motorboat ended up on the boom, being towed along by the tug.

“Luckily they weren’t hurt, but they got thrown around quite a bit.”

Read more: Shuswap volunteers save four lives, assist 29 others during 40 missions in four busy months

He said the collision broke the seal on the leg of the motor, so they couldn’t keep it running or put it in gear.

But the occupants stayed in the boat, were able to get the bilge pump going and called 911.

“It was just a mistake, not knowing what the lights meant that mark the log booms and the tug,” Sutherland said.

It took him and his crew about an hour to get there, and they were able to find the boat pretty easily.

Once there, Sutherland radioed the tug boat to let the captain know what had happened. To maintain control of the boom the operator is unable to stop, so the tug maintained its course and speed.

Sutherland estimated the tug dragged the pleasure boat along for at least two to three kilometres. From Copper Island, the tug would head north to the Cinnemousun Narrows, then around to end up at Canoe.

Read more: Shuswap’s marine rescue crew reaches milestone, prepares for summer

The four-person crew of Tolonen, which is the RCMSAR rescue boat, helped the couple onto the rescue boat and then pulled theirs off the boom. It was towed to Blind Bay, arriving around 1 a.m.

“It was risky but the risk was low,” said Sutherland. “A pretty routine rescue.”

This was the first rescue of the season for Station 106.

“We’re hoping not too many this year. Last year we had 41 calls between the May and September long weekend.”

Sutherland pointed out the station will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday, May 14 with a big open house at the Main Street landing in Sicamous from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

It will include two rescue boats, display trailers, boating safety boats – Bobbie the Safety Boat, ice cream, hot dogs and more. Everyone is welcome.

In the past 10 years the volunteers of Station 106 Shuswap have done more than 320 rescues.
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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