Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A search is underway for a missing tug boat last seen eight days ago. The 45-foot tug, Gabriola, was last seen May 17 when it left Port McNeill for a logging camp in Kyuquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It did not arrive as expected May 19. The vessel and its sole occupant, a man in his mid-50s, were reported missing Sunday, according to Lt. (Navy) Paul Pendergast of the Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. Authorities have not released his identity, but Pendergast said the man is not familiar with the area. “We know he hasn’t sailed in the area,” Pendergast said, adding the tug boat is at least 50 years old.The rescue centre has dispatched three aircraft, including a CC-115 Buffalo fixed-wing and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter. Two Coast Guard vessels are also assisting. “Right now we’re in the search phase and we have not found any evidence of this vessel, so it’s missing, it’s overdue and there are lots of possibilities when a vessel’s overdue,” Pendergast said. Although he is not aware of any major weather events in the past week, Pendergast said the seas in the area can be stormy ones. “Once you come around to the west side of Vancouver Island, it can be a treacherous area because it is exposed to the Pacific Ocean and there’s all the risks that would involve,” Pendergast said. The search will continue throughout the day, he said.