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Coast Guard hovercraft hits sailboat during Salt Spring Island medevac mission

No one injured, crew able to completed emergency transport to Vancouver after incident
Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Siyay was involved in a collision with a moored sailboat in Ganges Harbour off Salt Spring Island on Monday night. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Coast Guard/Government of Canada)

Nobody was hurt after a Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft hit part of an unattended sailboat in a Salt Spring Island harbour during a Monday medevac mission.

The incident occurred as the Siyay hovercraft was taking advanced life support paramedics to Ganges Harbour around 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 22, ahead of transporting a patient to Vancouver.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said the vessel entered the harbour at eight knots and went around the area where unlit sailboats are traditionally anchored.

“Unfortunately one unlit sailboat was anchored outside of the common anchorage area and was not picked up on the Siyay’s radar,” Coast Guard spokesperson Kiri Westnedge said in a statement.

The vessel’s captain performed an emergency manoeuvre to avoid direct contact with the sailboat, Westnedge said, but the hovercraft’s starboard side made contact with the boat’s bowsprit, protruding from its bow.

The hovercraft crew managed to complete the emergency transport to Vancouver. The sailboat was unattended at the time and Coast Guard officials are trying to locate its owner.

Meanwhile, damage to the hovercraft is being assessed and the station remains ready to respond to search and rescue missions, Westnedge said.

The 28.5-metre-long Siyay is one of four air-cushioned vehicles operated by the Coast Guard across Canada. It can reach speeds of 50 knots on water and can also travel on land, mudflats, shallow water, ice and other surfaces. The vessels are used to access areas difficult to reach by land and when land-based first responders can’t get somewhere quickly or easily.

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