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Elderly mariner ends fishermen's 10-day ordeal on remote island

May 19 2012

A sailor in his 70s who was looking for tsunami debris south of Prince Rupert spotted three fishermen who had been stranded on a remote island for 10 days after their fishing vessel capsized and sank.

The men had taken to their life raft and paddled eight miles to shore after the long-line halibut boat Pacific Siren, sank, said a spokesman for the Victoria Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

The sailor, who declined media interviews, told the coast guard he was aboard his sailboat Macona when he saw three men on a remote beach on Banks Island.

"He thought it was weird to see these guys camped out on the beach," said marine controller Jeff Olsson.

The area where the men were located is called Terror Point, and that's for good reason, Olsson said. "It's not a place you hang out for fun. It's exposed to Hecate Strait, not sheltered at all," he said.

The men used the life raft for shelter and survived by eating seaweed and clams, Olsson said. They were well hydrated, he said.

The Pacific Siren didn't have an emergency beacon, which would have alerted authorities that the vessel had sunk. The electronic equipment isn't required for coastal vessels, Olsson said, "but it's a very good idea."

The men had not been reported overdue and nobody had been looking for them.

"There was no reason to think there was anything wrong with these guys - fishing boats go out for weeks at a time," Olsson said.

The men were fortunate to be spotted, he said. "There's not a lot of recreational traffic around there."

The sailor was checking the shoreline for interesting items that had floated ashore from Japan, Olsson said.

The registered owner of the 11.5-metre Pacific Siren is David Martynuik of the Skidegate First Nation.

The sailor transferred the men to the coast guard ship Tanu, which was to take the men back to Prince Rupert and arrive Friday evening.

The men will be medically assessed when they get to Prince Rupert.


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