Mayday Mayday Mayday

We left Maple Bay 10 days ago heading south into Samsun Narrows when the radio alarm went off.

MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY.  Listening to the details we learned the call was from a boat who had just hit a rock in Samsun Narrows.  Another power boat was near by and able to respond to the distress call.  They were standing by and reporting back to the coast guard on the status of the boat’s occupants.   As we approached a working boat, meaning a fast trawler came whizzing past us, backed up to the boat on the rock and attempted to pull them off the rock.  It appeared the occupants were not hurt, thankfully, and damage to the boat is to be determined.  It was still floating!!

This incident is reminding me when I did the very same thing in Canoe Cove years ago on my 27′ sailboat called Nomad.  I was headed in for a haul out when my engine died.  There are heavy currents and numerous rocks in the area.  I could see them next to my hull but the keel had not touched bottom yet.  I panicked and called MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY.   This also brought a working boat to the rescue.  He quickly tied me onto his boat with bumpers and lines forward and aft and towed me away with his powerful engines.

Recently we had a near miss with OMOO.  Our route from Gabriola Pass to Princess Cove took us near Secretary Islands and the Skipper took a little turn to pass Jackscrew Island when his temperature alarm went off for the engine.  This is nothing new, especially when pushing the boat up to 3000 RPM.  He backed off on the throttle and the alarm stopped, but he was leaning over and checking his RPMs and when he looked up the chart plotter was showing rocks below us at 5.9 feet.  Our keel draws 6.5 feet.  The only thing that saved us was high tide.


These experiences happen to all of us at one time or another.  It’s a constant source of worry when navigating among the Southern Gulf  islands and anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.  If it’s not rocks, it’s logs.  Extreme vigilance and luck are key elements to avoiding catastrophe.   We’ve had many friends whose summer is ruined by some rock sneaking up on them.  The saying among boaters is “there’s those that have hit rocks, and those that are going to.”

The captain on the working boat that came to my rescue was very kind.  When he had me safely tied to the dock he quietly told me, “Mam, when you called Mayday Mayday Mayday, it was really a Pan Pan Pan.”  This means that I was in urgent need of assistance, but not in danger for my life.  I think I panicked and it was the first thing that came to mind.

I’m glad the power boat in Samsun Narrows was rescued quickly and that the occupants were safe.  This also makes me very grateful for the boating community on the water and how we all help each other.   So whoever you are, thanks for the reminder.

The Skipper on OMOO states regularly, “BOATING KEEPS US HUMBLE.”

Leave a Reply