Grounded sailboat has checkered past in Comox Valley

Emergency personnel search the water around a sailing boat that ran aground Monday afternoon between Royston and Union Bay. A man (right) survived. but RCMP are investigating the death of a woman who was on board. - Lia Sommer
Emergency personnel search the water around a sailing boat that ran aground Monday afternoon between Royston and Union Bay. A man (right) survived. but RCMP are investigating the death of a woman who was on board.
— image credit: Lia Sommer

The sailboat involved in Monday's crash on rocks near Union Bay wasn't the first time it caught the attention of Comox Valley Marine Rescue.

In Monday's incident, CVMR aided in the rescue of one man and the recovery of a woman's body.

CVMR station leader Jim Linderbeck said marine rescue volunteers have assisted with the sailboat and owner Dylan Jordan numerous times.

On Nov. 17, CVMR was tasked with bringing Away We Go back to the Comox harbour after it broke lose and drifted down the harbourway and ran aground on Beach Drive in Comox.

Less than two weeks later, on Nov. 30, the boat broke away from a sailpost in the Courtenay estuary by the 17th Street Bridge and was pushed out to the middle of the river.

Linderbeck said CVMR was tasked with bringing the boat back to shore, while RCMP were called to the scene.

"The wind got up and there was a high-flow (water) release from BC Hydro," he explained. "The boat was creeping into mid-stream and the bow was pointing upstream. When the boat started pushing out, the vessel was at a 45-degree angle from shore and pointing up the river."

He added RCMP members yelled and threw rocks at the vessel, in hopes of getting the attention of the man on board.

"The man eventually appeared and was unco-operative. He was handcuffed and taken away from shore," said Linderbeck.

He added they were alerted another person could be on board, and eventually woke up a woman sleeping under a pile of blankets.

There was ankle-deep water in the 27-foot sailboat, which was valued around $10,000, he noted, and CVMR deployed their dewatering pumps.

On Jan. 7, CVMR was tasked again to the Union Bay area to assist the boat as it ran around near Argyle Road.

"When we got on scene, the Cormorant (helicopter) was already there. The fellow was coming out of the water and the lady was being put on a stretcher," Linderbeck explained. "The boat was on its side, and we searched the boat to make sure nobody else was on board."

He added Away We Go was not in good condition at the time of the incident and the man was incoherent and unco-operative.

"That fellow should never have been allowed to take that boat out in the water," Linderbeck noted.

RCMP note both people in Monday's accident were transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's General Hospital in Comox. The woman, who has not been identified, was pronounced dead at the hospital. The man was released and is not in police custody.

Currently, the boat is resting in the water near the rocks where it ran aground, and contents could be seen floating in the water.

The CVMR and Station 60 Comox is a volunteer-run service to provide marine search and rescue to commercial, recreational and tourist users of the waters surrounding the Comox Valley.

They are trained to Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary training standards, and are on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist someone in distress.

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