British Columbia·Video

Frustration mounts over 'Wild West' of boat mooring in Vancouver Island bay

Residents association says it's working to form a task force with governments and Coast Guard to prevent boats from breaking free and crashing into a popular beach during storms.

Cadboro Bay residents seek to form task force to prevent vessels washing ashore during storms

This sailboat is one several that washed up in Saanich's Cadboro Bay during the most recent wind storm on the B.C. Coast. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

People who live along Cadboro Bay in Saanich, B.C., are frustrated by the number of boats that continue to break free and crash ashore during the frequent storms that batter the coast.

Several more vessels washed up during high winds earlier this week.

Two large sailboats were towed off the sand and refloated on Wednesday after their owners came forward.

Standing on Gyro Beach while a crew from a marine towing company went to work, Max Blouw said one of the boats belongs to his son, who is out of town.

A marine towing company managed to remove this sailboat from the beach in Cadboro Bay. It's one of several that broke free and washed up during during the most recent storm. 1:04

Blouw says the 29-foot sailboat was tied up in the bay because his son is waiting for a slip to open up at a nearby marina.

"It was a really rough number of days in a row," he said. "He had it very securely moored, but six lines chafed through."

The other boat is owned by a man who lives onboard and also thought his anchor was secure enough to withstand the storm. He was on his boat when it crashed into the beach but wasn't hurt.

The owners of both sailboats covered the cost of getting them back into the water.

But that's not always the case, said Eric Dahli with the Cadboro Bay Residents Association.

"If the ownership can't be determined, then we through the Registrar of Wreck will take ownership and dispose of it," he said. "Eventually it comes as a cost to all of the taxpayers."

A third vessel also washed up in the recent storm. The owner has not come forward to claim it and Dahli said it's not clear how long it will sit on the beach, where it could be a hazard for children playing.

This sailboat was also removed from Gyro Beach with the help of a marine towing crew and high tide. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

The issue of boats washing up in Cadboro Bay is a long-standing one.

"The problem here is that of boaters who really have no idea about how to anchor their boats," said Peter Simpson, a sailor who also lives near the beach.

"They don't realize that Cadboro Bay is like a funnel. It faces right to the southeast and we have had eight- to 10-foot [2.5- to three-metre] waves in here on really rough days.

In October, a cleanup was held to remove half a dozen battered and deteriorating boats from the beach, some of which had washed up years ago.

Cadboro Bay is a popular area to moor boats. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Derelict and abandoned vessels fall under federal jurisdiction.

But after years of hounding from people who use the beach, the province and local governments stepped up with more than $10,000 to help volunteers remove the boats and dispose of them.

Last year, the federal government announced $6 million for an Abandonded Boats Program. Groups can apply for a grant to remove small abandoned or wrecked vessels that pose a hazard.

But critics say the funding for the program won't come close to addressing the number of abandoned boats left rusting and rotting on Canadian coastlines.

An employee of the marine towing company removing the sailboat attaches tow lines. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Dahli said residents are working to form a task force with local municipalities, the province and the Coast Guard to better manage boats that are anchoring and mooring in Cadboro Bay.

"We're going to try to bring some semblance of order to the Wild West, which is this Cadboro Bay," he said.

It took three tow vessels to get this sailboat off the beach and back into the water. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

About the Author

Megan Thomas


Megan Thomas is a reporter for CBC in Victoria, B.C. She covers stories from around Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. Follow her on Twitter @meganTcbc.