Canning Volunteer Fire Department. File
Boaters had mixed luck along Kings County’s shores on the long weekend.
A man and a woman were smart to have their lifejackets on Aug. 3 when their small boat capsized off of Long Beach, between Halls' and Baxter’s harbours.
Canning deputy Chief Jeff Skaling said people on the beach heard the pair’s calls for help Sunday evening, from about 300 yards offshore, and called 911.
“I can’t really stress how important it was they had their PFDs with them,” Skaling said. “It worked out really well.”
The tide was going out, but the seas were calm, and both adults were able to swim to shore.
Skaling went to the beach while crews from Canning and New Minas started out from the Halls Harbour wharf, with help from that community’s fire department.
“When I got to the beach, the sun was going down and it was getting darker.” He found the drenched and hypothermic boaters being helped by people on the beach until they could be taken by boat to paramedics waiting at the Halls Harbour wharf.
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Halifax also helped with the rescue, calling in a Cormorant helicopter from Greenwood and alerting boats in the area.
First responders were called out again around 4 p.m the next day when Canning firefighters were paged about a 20-foot pleasure craft in distress between Kingsport and Blomidon.
“(The) craft had motor difficulties and taking on water,” Skaling said.
He said the JRCC was in touch with the boat and called in Canning, as well as Coast Guard Auxiliary boats from Parrsboro.
Another small craft in the area had gone to the aid of this boat, had helped the four people aboard fix the motor issue, get the pumps working and proceed to the Delhaven wharf, where they were met by Canning firefighters.
Wharves key to successful rescues
Maintaining public infrastructure is important to happy endings to rescue calls on the Fundy shore, Skaling said.
After damage to the Scott’s Bay wharf in July’s Hurricane Arthur, there is some question as to what the federal government will do to replace it.
“Access to the Minas Basin or Bay of Fundy is very challenging,” he said. For example, “with the rescue call on Sunday, our launch sites are somewhat limited.
“If the tide is high, it’s fairly easy,” he said, adding the department has a vehicle that can tow boats across the basin’s mud flats at low tide.
However, on the rocky coast, it’s more of a challenge
“Often, the only access we have are maintained facilities – Halls Harbour, Scott’s Bay, etc.,” Skaling said.
“Launching we can do, recovering people we need to be a bit more gentle.”
Damage to the Scott’s Bay wharf is already affecting the water rescue crew. Canning is planning a low tide training session to ensure firefighters can launch boats around the pile of ballast and debris from the damaged dock.