The Royal Marine Canadian Search and Rescue crew from Station 14 join arms to lift an injured paddleboarder onto their rigid-hull inflatable boat. She had had been flipped into the ocean in Langdale.
A paddleboarder bashed and immobilized in a ferry wake was rescued this week by a crew from Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR). Langdale neighbours assisted the victim until the rescue team arrived.
The Station 14 volunteers were practicing rescue docking maneuvers in Plumper Cove, off Keats Island. Meanwhile, about three km away, Katie Behboudi glided on a paddleboard. As the board slid through nearly calm waters in Smith Cove, a ferry passed by.
Smith Cove is the second inlet after the Langdale ferry dock, going toward Port Mellon. As ferries cruise through the area, they can generate strong waves that sweep toward shore. The wake tossed Behboudi off the paddleboard.
The board flipped and she shot into the air near a floating raft. As she came down, her arm hit the raft.
“My shoulder just popped,” Behboudi, a grade 1 teacher and Langdale homeowner, said later.
Neighbour Marilyn Crichton, a former nurse who was nearby in the water, described what she witnessed:
“Katie fell off the paddleboard in ferry waves and hit the raft. She reached out and was caught between the paddleboard and raft. She was in obvious pain, guarding her shoulder.
“She was wearing a life jacket. I was able to grasp on and try to help her slowly toward shore. A neighbour called 911 from his boat and asked for marine search and rescue, as she was in the water.
“It took half an hour to get her close to shore. I was worried that she was starting to show signs of hypothermia.”
By then many neighbors had gathered on the beach. Behboudi’s two young children stood by. Three neighbours managed to lift Behboudi onto a beach chair, which they positioned in the water.
She asked them not to move her off the chair. “When my shoulder was coming out of the water, gravity took over. It hurt too much to move,” Behboudi said.
She could not get up and walk to shore, much less make it across the rocks that stood between the beach and a cliff. She refused to be lifted and moved toward the stairs that meandered up the 50-metre cliff toward a road. She remained on the chair in the water. “I’m in too much pain to move,” she reiterated.
Meanwhile, neighbours frantically called people they thought might help. Cell phones were passed back and forth to one another and to Behboudi in the chair.
One call went to Marilyn’s husband, Ian Crichton, who is an RCMSAR volunteer and was engaged in the practice maneuvers. Soon the boat zipped away from Keats Island and arrived at Smith Cove. Low tide allowed the rigid-hull inflatable to land close to Behboudi’s position in the water.
At first the crew considered lifting her onto the boat on a stretcher, but she couldn’t lie down. Instead, halfway in the water, they performed a four-handed seat lift in which two rescuers form a seat with their arms. They got her into the boat.
It proceeded to the ferry terminal, where an ambulance whisked Behboudi to Sechelt Hospital. In a few hours she was back at home, where she is recovering from a fractured shoulder.
At the Station 14 boathouse in Gibsons Landing, RCMSAR-14 director Al Hyland and crew member Ian Crichton examine protective clothing. RCMSAR Station 14 serves the Sunshine Coast from Davis Bay to Port Mellon, including the islands. There are more than 30 such rescue stations along the BC Coast.
Unlike the Coast Guard, which responds to emergencies some 14 km out and beyond at sea, the closer-in rescues done by RCMSAR are not federal-government funded. To keep going, Station 14 seeks support from the community.
The station is currently holding an auction of paintings by local artists. To bid on or view the art, see https://www.rcmsar14.ca/help-us/auction. Bidding continues until Aug. 28.