A novice kayaker is fortunate to be alive after overturning and spending an hour bobbing in the frigid sea on Monday.
“He was lucky is what he was,” said Morgan Chisholm, officer in charge of the Coast Guard lifeboat Cape Palmerston.
The Hong Kong man was visiting Campbell River when he and other man set out in the afternon from Race Point and intended to kayak to the former Elk Falls mill.
But shortly after 4 p.m., the Chinese man overturned and was unable to get back into the kayak. His friend tried to tow him, but the strong tide made that impossible.
So the friend tossed his lifejacket to his buddy in the water and set out for the closest point, the Walcan fish processing plant on Quadra Island.
He made it there, authorities were alerted and Comox Coast Guard Radio sent out an emergency call that was heard by the Seymour Pacific Developments crew boat.
Eight guys were on board the crew boat, returning from work on Stuart Island, and they immediately set out to look for the man.
“We were told to look for a yellow kayak,” said Wayne Atkinson who was aboard the crew boat. “We didn’t see the kayak, but then I saw something dark bobbing in the water. I thought it was a log, but it was him!”
At 5:15 p.m., the man was hauled on board, wrapped in blankets and brought back to Campbell River where an awaiting ambulance took him to hospital to be treated for hypothermia.
“He was alive, but he was so cold he could barely speak,” said Atkinson.
Chisholm said the man is okay, but the two kayakers weren’t prepared.
“They didn’t have a VHF radio or an emergency signaller. He also should have held onto the kayak – but it all ended well.”