Boats were torn from their moorings in Tsehum Harbour during high winds recently and washed up on shore, starting the challenge of getting them back in the water.
Overnight Tuesday, Feb. 4, a storm blew up in the harbour and two vessels were sent onto the beach in front of Sidney waterfront residents. Accompanying them was a large amount of debris from another three vessels that sank.
Janet Rooke, harbour master at the Tsehum Harbour Authority, says at least one derelict sailboat had sunk in the first winter storm back in November and is still out there. The two sailboats on the beach, she continued, have been there at least once before.
“Two months ago, the smaller one broke free and washed up in almost the same place,” she said.
The boat was dug out and towed back into the harbour to a new mooring. The owner was notified.
The larger of the two has also broken loose in the past, Rooke said, but she does not know who owns it. Despite that, she said it was returned to a mooring prior to the most recent storm.
Rooke said it’s up to the boat owners to arrange to have them towed off of the beach. In the event an owner cannot be found, she said people like herself and her husband spend their own time getting the vessels upright again.
Another of those people is Mark Smith, who was checking the beached vessels on Thursday, Feb. 6. He says he’s a diver and has salvaged boats in the harbour. He said he lives aboard one of the sailboats moored in Tsehum Harbour and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard Tuesday night during the high winds. He said he is none the worse for wear, but expressed dismay at the sinking of a couple of the vessels.
“This one here, she’s a pretty good boat, it’s too bad she’s on her side,” Smith said of the larger of the two on the beach. “There’s no numbers on her at all anywhere.”
Smith said he plans to get the boats off the beach and submit paperwork through Transport Canada for the salvage work.
At the Marina Park Marina, employee Keijo Isomaa said a small boat broke loose and drifted into a walkway at their facility.
He called the RCMP and they quickly identified the owner and have contacted them.
Isomaa said the incidents highlight a growing concern about older or derelict boats moored in the area, causing navigation hazards and even environmental damage.