The search for a man whose rental boat was found drifting off the waters of West Vancouver with the engine in gear and the key in the ignition Wednesday afternoon has been suspended.
Victoria’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman Sub-Lieutenant Wilson Ho confirmed Thursday evening that intensive search for the missing boater had been called off after 24 hours because all leads have been exhausted and “there is no longer any reasonable expectation of survival.”
The search has now been turned over to the Vancouver Police Department as a missing persons case.
The 17-foot fibreglass rental boat was found drifting, unmanned, off West Bay in West Vancouver Wednesday afternoon.
Sgt. Steve Addison of the Vancouver Police Department said the missing person is a 46-year-old Surrey man, who rented the boat from an outfit on Granville Island around noon on Wednesday and set out alone towards Bowen Island.
When he failed to return the rental boat by 3 p.m., a search was mounted.
While the boat was found off the North Shore, there was nobody aboard and no sign of the man who had rented it.
Searchers including the Coast Guard hovercraft, two Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue boats from the North Shore, police vessels, a military Cormorant helicopter and a police helicopter scoured English Bay from Point Atkinson to the Lions Gate Bridge on Wednesday evening. The search was expanded on Thursday to include areas of Howe Sound up to Passage Island.
Hugh Kelsey, coxswain of the RCM-SAR unit 1, based in West Vancouver,
said it seems likely the man fell overboard, although where that happened, when and under what circumstances is impossible to tell.
“It’s rare that we’re called out where you find a boat in gear,” he said.
Kelsey said conditions for the search – which continued until 3 a.m. Thursday morning before starting again at around 8:30 a.m. – were good, but failed to turn up signs of the missing boater.
With files from Brendan Kergin