“We gotta save those kids. Let’s get there and get the job done.”
Those are the words the crew onboard the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Siyay remember hearing the night they departed the Sea Island base bound for the last known position of the fishing vessel Mindset, 15 nautical miles away.
The words were from Capt. Tom Moxey whose crew — Andrew Costa, Glen McFadden, Matthew Glade, Matthew Lahaise, Keith Klapstein and John Dowling — was this year’s winner of the Canadian Coast Guard Crew of the year award.
Moxey was determined their mission was going to end well that late evening on Sept. 29 by rescuing a family of seven onboard the 30-foot gillnetter that was taking on water three miles east of Pollier Pass in the Georgia Strait.
Everyone was in the water, they were clinging onto floating debris, and they only had three lifejackets for the family.
Rescue specialist Glenn McFadden in the lookout seat spotted the moonlit silhouette of the Mindset dead ahead, capsized and mostly submerged.
A faint white light appeared next to the vessel. When the spotlights were fired up, the family was spotted huddling together holding on to what they could.
Rescue specialists were deployed off the bow, each carrying an extra lifejacket for the family. The family had been in the water and in the dark, wearing not much more than pyjamas for 40 minutes.
All of their possessions, with the exception of a few suitcases, were lost in the incident, but they were thankful to have survived the ordeal without significant injury.
Members of the crew who accepted the award told the audience they only represent the final step in front line of the entire SAR rescue system, and thanked a variety of support services — the MCTS (Marine Communications and Traffic Services) and RCC (Rescue Coordination Centre), and especially the engineers who keep their vessels hovering.