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Vancouver Island fishers to be honoured for daring sea rescue

Sooke residents Ryan and John Planes honoured by Lifesaving Society
A survivor from the U.S. fishing vessel Evening was found in a life raft off Vancouver Island on Thursday, 11 days after the boat was due to return to port (U.S. Coast Guard)

As Ryan Planes was in the middle of setting out his fishing gear off the West Coast of Vancouver Island in October, he noticed a bright orange speck about half a kilometre away.

Upon first glance, he mistook it for ocean debris. Then, as he peered through his binoculars, he identified a life-raft, with a man waving a paddle, signalling for help. A few moments later, the man set off what was his last flare.

The crew of five people on the Ocean Sunset, including Capt. John Planes (Ryan’s uncle), had found a mariner who had been adrift at sea on a life raft for almost two weeks.

RELATED: Canadian fishermen rescue American drifting 200km off Vancouver Island

The mariner had been on a tuna fishing expedition off the coast of Washington State that had gone wrong. The rescued man was the sole survivor of a two-person fishing crew meant to return to shore on Oct. 15, 2023. An extensive search by the U.S. Coast Guard had been called off Oct. 24, the day before he was found.

The rescued U.S. citizen was taken to the hospital in Tofino by the Canadian Coast Guard, later expressing gratitude to his rescuers.

John Planes said that due to a previous bad day on the water, they almost didn’t go out.

For their selfless actions that day, Sooke residents Ryan and John Planes, are being awarded the Silver Medals for Merit from the Lifesaving Society.

The Planes are among 20 recipients of Rescue Awards from the Lifesaving Society at the 112th annual Honour & Rescue Award Ceremony held at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on March 9.

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