Lightkeepers to the Rescue – AGAIN!

 

This is a past and very notable lifesaving rescue by two BC lightkeepers, Lynn Hauer and assistant lightkeeper Wolfgang Luebke who were at Chatham Point lighthouse at the time.

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Chatham point lighthouse - photo from Margaret Lutz

We sleep with the radios always on, and ‘with one ear open’.

At 3 AM on April 30, 2012 I was awakened by the unmistakeable sound of a Mayday distress signal. Being able to copy both sides of the communication, I knew it was within our response area. I sprang out of bed. Comox Coast Guard Radio was responding to the call from a very concerned woman, “We don’t have a lifeboat; we are putting our life jackets on now. We are bailing but it isn’t helping!!”

I knew we could be there in 10 to 20 minutes; we were tasked by Rescue Coordination Center. Assistant lightkeeper Wolfgang Luebke and I responded in our 18 foot aluminum station boat. It was pitch black out, and raining. We made our way by compass bearing, across Johnstone Strait into Burgess Passage.

Arriving on scene, we found a man and woman frantically bailing water with ice cream pails! Their bilge pump was inoperative. Their efforts were futile. Their ‘kicker’ motor was under water, and the large outboard was next. Water was pouring in around the re-boarding gate and inches from flooding completely over the transom, which would have seen them go down in minutes. We began pumping the water out of their vessel, with the Honda pump that is always stored under the seat of our station boat. We were all very relieved to see the flood water level slowly subsiding.

Cape Palmerston

The Cape Palmerston (CG SAR vessel) arrived on scene approximately 40 minutes after us. We saved an $80K boat from going to the bottom, and we surely saved a man and his wife from drowning; they would have been in that frigid water with only PFDs, for more than a half hour, had two keepers from Chatham Point Light not been there…we wouldn’t have been there if not for your SEEING THE LIGHT!

Lynn Hauer

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This letter was from from Lynn Hauer, a lightkeeper at Chatham Point and it was addressed to Canadian senator Nancy Greene, hence the reference to Seeing the Light. Senator Greene and her friends were very important in fighting to keep BC lighthouses manned. If unmanned, these people would probably have died. Many instances happen daily where a BC lightkeeper helps a mariner. Many of them you will never read about as they go into station reports and are lost in the central Coast Guard office paperwork – well, not actually lost, just suppressed.

The only way for the lightkeepers to get attention is to report their rescues to the Press (forbidden) or have it written up by myself, or other people outside the arm of Coast Guard censorship.

As Lynn said in a preface to the email she passed around to the lighthouse keepers:

It is important to keep the Senators up to speed of things that are going on. They support lightkeepers (LKs), we should keep them in the loop. They and the public recognize and care about what LKs do.

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The following emails show how the email  was received by Senator Greene.

Dear Lynn,

First, thank you for your quick action!  You are so right.
Thanks also for passing this on to me. I will circulate it as best I can.
All the best!
Nancy
 

Thank you so much Nancy.
Your recognition means very much to Wolfgang and I. The thank you that we received from the couple that night, we extend to you.

Lynn, Ann, and Thyr

 

Search and Rescue (SAR), Canada

Canadian SAR Regions

One of the responsibilities of Canadian lighthouse keepers is to assist and help in Search and Rescue (SAR). They are part of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and can be called upon to assist in a search at any time, be it for missing people in boats, aircraft, or other forms of transportation.

In fact lighthouse keepers, because of their location, are ideally situated to assist in SAR activities. It is too bad that the CCG does not promote this side of lighthouse activities, and provide better training and equipment. Most of the SAR activities done by lightkeepers are done with their own equipment – be it boats, radios, scanners, survival suits, etc. More on this in another post.

SAR is a large community in Canada, but a branch of SAR that is not too well known by the public, except for those involved, is CASARA (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association).1  Continue reading

Prince Rupert’s New Coast Guard Vessel Arrives

The Coast Guard vessel Cape Dauphin sits docked at the Seal Cove base.

By Shaun Thomas – The Northern View

Prince Rupert’s new Coast Guard vessel, the Cape Dauphin, was on display at the Coast Guard station today and those who work with the ship outlined the role it will play in search and rescue on the North Coast.

 She ship is a 47 foot cape-class vessel with a combined 900 horsepower. It can house a crew of four with a maximum speed of 25 knots and is designed to withstand 80 knot winds and 30 foot seas. The ship is also self righting, which means if it flips over in rough seas the engines won’t cut out and the boat will automatically roll back into the proper upright position.

 “This is the standard boat across the country and across the continent. America has about 200 and we have a significant number here in Canada. They fulfill their mission perfectly because of their speed and nimbleness,” said Kevin Tomsett, superintendent on small vessels.

 “They’re a good size and can get into a lot of the areas that other big boats can’t access.”

 The Cape Dauphin, named after a cape in New Brunswick, also features side decks that can be lowered to bring someone out of the water more efficiently and will carry the same medical equipment as the much larger Point Henry, which was decomissioned earlier this year. The two 450 horsepower engines are rated for fuel efficiency and longevity, with the Cape Dauphin able to cover 200 nautical miles on a tank of gas at full speed and the top 2,120 RPM, and up to 800 nautical miles at lower speed.

 A dedication ceremony for the ship will take place later this afternoon.

– photo by Shaun Thomas – The Northern View