Two Baker Lake men are fortunate to be alive after they were rescued by the crew of an oil tanker.
The two men we spotted by a work boat from the Tuvaq W on July 23, 15 minutes after their canoe flipped in the frigid waters about a kilometre off shore.
“No doubt they definitely saved their lives for sure,” said Craig Farrell, marine superintendent, for Coastal Shipping Ltd.
Speaking to Kivalliq News, Farrell shared the ship’s account of the incident. He said crew from the vessel were travelling from the ship to the shore on a small work boat on the morning of July 23. They were getting in position for a delivery of jet fuel to the local airport. As they approached shore, they heard yelling coming from the bow of the boat. Upon further inspection they noticed two men and an overturned canoe in the water.
“They dropped the hose they were pulling and rescued the two people out of the water and brought them back to the ship,” said Farrell.
According to an RCMP press release, the canoe capsized around 10:25 a.m. and the canoeists, who were both wearing personal flotation devices, were tossed into the cold water. Farrell said it was a good thing they were found by the crew members not long after their boat flipped.
“This just happened to be at the right place and the right time,” said Farrell, “and the guys reacted quickly.”
After being rescued, both of the canoeists were brought aboard the Tuvaq W, then treated with first aid.
“We gave them dry clothes and got them dry and warm whatnot,” said Farrell.
The RCMP brought the men to shore.
Farrell said it’s common for oil tankers in the company’s fleet to have to respond to emergency calls put out by the coast guard.
However, it’s extremely rare to stumble upon survivors of a capsized boat without warning.
“It’s part of the job to respond to calls for distress when you’re at sea,” he said. “But we’ve never been anything like that in our fleet.”