Two men stranded in P.E.I.'s Malpeque Bay, near Belmont, have been rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter, hours after turning back the first efforts to save them.

The bizarre rescue started at 3:17 p.m. when the men called 911 for help.

"Their engine wasn't working," said RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar. "They actually made it in close enough to shore so they could lay anchor."

'It's very frustrating when people decide for their own selfish reasons not to take that rescue' —RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar 

The RCMP asked the Coast Guard for assistance. A rescue boat was sent, but couldn't reach the men because of poor weather conditions. Blackadar said there was ice in the area, and the seas were choppy through the day.

Then, a helicopter was sent to the boat, but the men refused to get on board. They told their rescuers they had arranged someone to come in to repair their broken vessel.

When the Coast Guard learned of the repair plan, Blackadar said they determined it was unsafe for a second civilian ship to head into the Bay. That plan was stopped, and the Coast Guard sent a zodiac out to fetch the stranded fishermen.

This attempt - the third - to save the men failed when the Coast Guard itself had electronic problems and had to be sent back to shore.

Finally, at around 7:30 p.m., the helicopter was sent once again to the boat, and the two men were brought to shore and dropped off at the Summerside Airport.

Blackadar said the men, a 51-year-old and 36-year-old, were both from Charlottetown. Neither were harmed.

Costly day

While the rescue ended safely, Blackadar said it was anything but a textbook senario.

"It's certainly very frustrating for us when somebody calls 911 asking for assistance, and they're asking for help, certainly help was sent to them," he said. "It costs a lot of money to send those resources out there to rescue people. It's very frustrating when people decide for their own selfish reasons not to take that rescue."

Blackadar said other provinces can charge people who put themselves in peril for the financial cost of their rescues, but that's not the case on P.E.I.

Belmont is located approximately 78 kilometres northwest of Charlottetown.