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Boaters drifting towards rocks rescued near Departure Bay

Marine search and rescue volunteers are reminding boaters to always carry safety equipment such as radios, anchors, spare gas and an alternate means of powering the boat after a rescue near Departure Bay Friday.

Gordie Robinson, coxswain with the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue's Nanaimo station, said a mayday call came in around 11 a.m. Friday for an eight-metre motor boat drifting toward the rocks on Five Fingers Island near Departure Bay.

"They ran out of gas," he said. "It was their first time in the boat. I gather they were probably freaking a bit because they didn't have an anchor, so they didn't have anything to stop them from drifting towards the rocks."

Seven volunteers responded to the call and towed the couple to shore to refuel. The owners, from Seattle, were on a holiday in Canadian waters for the boat's maiden voyage.

Robinson said the couple did have a radio, but did not have spare cans of gas, an anchor or an auxiliary motor.

"You don't exactly pull two cans out and start paddling a 26-foot boat," he said. "An extra engine would have helped."

Steve Jackson, the station's spokesman, said the season has been slow so far for volunteers, with three incidents in June and four incidents so far in July – normally the station gets at least twice that many calls.

"We're actually down quite a bit in rescue missions," he said. "The weather hasn't been nice up until lately."

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