The fast action of a View Royal boater helped rescue a massive barge that drifted to shore in Esquimalt Harbour earlier this month.
Troy Saladana was on his way to the video store the night he got a call from a friend who could see the 50-metre barge from his window. The vessel had broke free of its mooring and was trapped in some rocks just off the shoreline.
“It was so dark outside and hull is all black, so you couldn’t see it until it was right there on the shore,” Saladana said.
Saladana dropped his plans for a quiet evening inside. He and his friend John Rogers, a View Royal councillor, jumped in his zodiac and radioed the joint operations centre to see how they could help.
“I’m out on the water everyday, so I know how to navigate the shallows,” Saladana said.
As neighbours wandered down to the shore to watch, Saladana brought his zodiac alongside the barge and located some thick ropes on its bow. He and Rogers worked together to tie the bow line to the rear of a rescue ship sent out by the Queen’s Harbour Master at CFB Esquimalt.
But just pulling the line of the barge wasn’t enough to free it. Saladana had to push his zodiac at full power against the barge to free it.
He then helped lead the rescue boat out to the mooring where they finally secured the vessel in its proper place.
During cruise ship season, the barge is used as liquid waste storage, where boats unload their sewage before pulling into port. This time of year it’s left empty.
Recent storms and a lack of maintenance caused the ropes holding the vessel to slowly wear out. It likely took hours for the barge to make its way to shore.
“If it had happened during the daylight, we would have seen it a lot sooner,” Saladana said.
Remarkably, the barge didn’t hit anything while it drifted free. But Saladana and Rogers can’t help but think how things could have turned out differently.
“There are million-dollar sailboats on docks out there that it somehow avoided hitting,” Rogers said. “If the wind was blowing the other direction, it could have drifted into the shipyard (of CFB Esquimalt) and could have done a lot of damage.”
The barge itself was also undamaged.
“It could have rolled on its side and filled with water,” Saladana added. “If it wasn’t empty, there could have been a spill to deal with.”
Graciously those scenarios never came to be.
“The whole rescue went very smoothly,” Rogers said. “It was quite an adventure.”