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Kayakers plucked from water near Boat Harbour

Two men were lucky the coast guard auxiliary was close by when their kayak overturned on the weekend.

Both men in their early 20s were out kayaking Saturday when their craft overturned, dumping them in the chilly waters between Boat Harbour and De Courcy Island.

Both men were wearing life preservers, but with their kayak overturned they had few options other than to try and swim with the current toward Round Island, south of Dodd Narrows. Fortunately for them, Royal Canadian Search and Rescue Units No. 27 and 29 of Nanaimo and Ladysmith were conducting training exercises in the area and had three boats in the water.

Mike Banning, Nanaimo station leader, said they got a call from the Canadian Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria shortly before 11 a.m.

The call indicated men were in the water somewhere between Boat Harbour and Yellow Point.

“We responded to the call and had gone probably not even a mile south – we were still north of Boat Harbour at that point – and one of the boats spotted two guys in the water,” Banning said.

“Fortunately we spotted them because we assumed they were a couple miles south of where we spotted them.”

A paramedic, who was on board one of the Nanaimo boats, found the men were hypothermic and called for an ambulance to meet them at Boat Harbour. They had been in the water at least 20 minutes.

“They were trying to swim to Round Island, which was more than a mile away,” Banning said. “So they would have been in the water a long time. There were no other boats in the vicinity.”

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