The search for three capsized mariners near Tofino entered its second day on Saturday and First Street Dock was packed with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members supporting each other as they await updates. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

VIDEO: Volunteers continue search for capsized mariners near Tofino

“The mood on the dock is hopeful.”

The search for three West Coast residents whose boat capsized early Friday morning continued on Saturday as local boaters, RCMP and search and rescue crews maintained their collaborative efforts.

Five men were tossed into the water when their tin boat sank near Duffin Cove around 3 a.m. Two were located, one pulled from the water and another who swam to shore. Members of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation have been supporting each other at Tofino’s First Street Dock, waiting for updates on the three missing men.

“We’re all focused really hard on resolving the situation in the best way that we can,” Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Executive Assistant Connor Paone told the Westerly News at the dock on Saturday.

“We have a lot of committed professional people on the water, on land and in the skies right now…The mood on the dock is hopeful. It’s sorrowful because of the situation that’s going on, of course. Right now, we’re just trying to keep our spirits up. We have a lot of people here trying to cheer people up and we have a lot of support from all the communities on the Coast here helping us do that.”

He added West Coast communities have proven their ability to come together in a crisis.

“We’ve been here before. Every handful of years there’s a tragedy on the Coast and, every time that happens, you see all the communities come together,” he said. “Culturally speaking, the [Tla-o-qui-aht] Nation’s really close. All the families are really close with each other and anyone that’s involved or has been around can see that just with the amount of people that are here, the amount of donations that have come in from local businesses, from family members, from the community at large to help support the families and the people that are on and off the water searching.”

While Victoria’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre scaled back its search efforts Friday night and handed the file over to the RCMP as a missing person’s case, Westcoast Inland Search and Rescue Manager Garth Cameron told the Westerly that the search team was bolstered Saturday morning with SAR crews arriving from Nanaimo, Comox and Courtenay.

“Both the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht First Nation have a ton of boats on the water and lots of boots on the ground,” he added.

Cameron said the search’s momentum has not waned in the second day.

“Everybody deals with tragedy differently. From a SAR manager point of view…we just push, push, push,” he said. “You’re always hopeful and it’s always a search. We’re looking for somebody. When we find that person, then we’ll cross that bridge; whatever that bridge may be and I, for one, will never speculate that it’s something else besides a search. Right now, we are still looking for three missing people.”

Paone said the best way for locals to assist is through donations of food and water to the search teams and that any boaters wanting to join the effort should check in at the dock first.

“If you want to get involved in the search, don’t just head out on your own,” he said. “Make sure you’re checking with Search and Rescue. If you’re unsure, the best thing to do is come down to the First Street Dock here and check in in person with them to make sure that we get you tasked out officially. The worst thing that could happen is to have another set of people head out there and get stuck themselves.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Extravagant marriage proposal in Ucluelet

“It was such a dream. He brought a dream to life. No one does this anymore.”

Missing mushroom picker found “alive and well” after three-day search in Ucluelet

“It’s always great to have a positive outcome like this.”

Ucluelet mayor criticizes province’s lack of communication as highway closures resume

Daily closures return to only highway in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet

HISTORY COLUMN: Reflecting on the 32nd anniversary of Canada’s apology to Japanese-Canadians

Japanese-Canadians an integral part of Tofino and Ucluelet’s history.

Tofino-Ucluelet region rallies around injured five-month-old puppy

A Hitacu puppy is home and healing after being struck by a vehicle in Hitacu

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Most Read