British Columbia

Kayakers rescued off Vancouver Island's Estevan Point

Three experienced kayakers were no match for Vancouver Island's rugged west coast when a paddle near Estevan Point north of Tofino suddenly went wrong.
Search and Rescue Technician Sgt. Robin Richardson of 442 Squadron, is lowered from a Cormorant helicopter near Estevan Point on Tuesday to begin the evacuation of three kayakers who had become stranded on a steep, rocky shoreline. (Sgt. Steph Clavette, 442 Squadron)

Three experienced kayakers were no match for Vancouver Island's rugged west coast when a paddle near Estevan Point north of Tofino suddenly went wrong.

The trio is okay, but had to be airlifted from the steep, rocky shoreline Tuesday evening when the men were stranded between cliffs and the water, northwest of Victoria.

Trouble began when a member of the group rolled his kayak in choppy water and another of the boats was severely damaged on rocks as the other two men rushed to help.

The three were able to climb a slope above the waves but couldn't go forward or back. Fortunately they were spotted by a passing boater, who was unable help but reported the situation to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria.

The trio were eventually airlifted off the rocks by a search and  rescue helicopter from the 442 Squadron base in Comox.

"As we flew in, we did a quick assessment of the area and realized there would be no place to land, so we hoisted down our Search and Rescue Technicians to get the kayakers out," said Captain Jean Leroux, aircraft commander.

"It was clear that they had no other means of getting off the rocks safely."

One-by-one, the SAR Techs hoisted the men into the hovering helicopter.

"They had all of the proper kayaking and safety gear with them," said Sergeant Steph Clavette, SAR Tech, "it was just bad luck that they rolled and then smashed a boat while helping their friend."

All three men were uninjured and were flown back to their campsite near Espinosa Inlet.