About 1983, not easy to write about this incident. It was late October, we lived in Sechelt, at Mission Point. The Chapman Creek ran at the edge of our yard, the high tide flooded a small fish pond, and I could launch a boat from the yard. I actually had the 29′ ” Tresfjord” up there several times on high tide.
The weather was not nice, not real bad, but not good fishing weather. I wanted to make a last attempt to get some Northern Coho, a fine salmon making their last run at this time. The White Islet, about a mile off the Mission Point was normally a good place to get some. I had a 13 ‘ fast fibreglass fishing boat, with a 25 hp. outboard engine, way too big on this day.
The boat could fly with this engine. It was nice to launch it in my front yard and be in Pender Harbour in 25 minutes, and Jervis Inlet in an hour. That on a nice day, this day was not one. I got the gear ready, two rods, fairly heavy trolling, the Northern Coho can be up to 5-6 lb. and fighting like crazy.
I wanted Hans to come along, I don’t know why I insisted, I am glad I did. He did not want to, he liked fishing, but this day he did absolutely not want to, I almost had to force him. This was a Saturday, and I was going to Europe Monday, can’t remember why, but it was probably a trade fair. I have crossed the Atlantic 67 times by plane.
Hans and me launched the boat and went out to White Islet. Hans had a life jacket, I had none, it would not have helped, but would have been the right ting to do, and heavy winter clothes, it was a cold and miserable day. I had heavy wool sweater, big rubber booths and lots of clothes in between. We trolled for a long time, not a bite, waves coming over the railing; it was time to go home.
Hans was in the very bow, holding on with both hands. I was sitting on the only seat, holding on to the gas arm of the outboard, and gave suitable speed for the way home, I thought. Around Mission Point there is a mean rip tide during tide changes, and I knew that, but with the choppy seas I did not see the rip tide.
I do not know what happened, I was suddenly in the free air, did not touch the railing at all, when I come up to the surface the first time, the boat was far gone, and still going. It was cold, I had swallowed water, I started panicking, and much of what happened was instinct. I could not tread water, the rubber booths held me down. It took some time to get rid of them. I got tired, this was tough going. The second or third time I got to the surface, I could see the boat far away. I was ready to be crab meat in a few minutes.
I had to get my heavy wool sweater off, it was keeping me down, It was not easy. I talked to the Devil. If you want me now , here I am, not ready and willing, but in a stupid bad situation. I got the sweater off, now I could tread water, the tide was so strong that I felt like racing along. With this cold water I had no time, this would be a question of winning or loosing, the Devil or me. I cursed and prayed.
About this time I saw that Hans had slowed the boat down and turned it around. He was only about six years old, but I had thought him how to run the boat, and he liked to do that.
I went under, arguing with the Devil, Hans came closer, my only hope in this world. He missed me the first time, I almost gave up, the waves and the current made the boat hard to steer. The next time he hit me right on, I told him to shut the engine off, and hand by hand I edged myself down the side to the stern. It was nice to hold on to the boat, Hans was calm, and that helped, he had just saved the life of his dad.
How to get on board in a small dinghy, wet, cold tired, and in rough seas ? The boat would flip if I tried to get in over the side. The only way was using the prop as a step, and come in over the stern, with Hans in the very bow as a counterweight. This took time to organize, I was not with my full five at this time. The dinghy took in a lot of water in the process, but stayed afloat.
I don’t remember how, but the Devil did not want me this time around either; the next I remember was drying up and getting warm clothes at home. Hans was not affected the way I was, he was playing with something as soon as he had changed. I was in bad shape, did not dear to tell my wife about the real problem, how close this was, but she must have noticing me shaking.
I booked an extra ticket for Hans, and took him with me to Europe the following Monday, I could not be without him, it was just so, I had to have him close to me. I sold the boat and the engine, not to the same party, I did not want anybody to get into the same situation.
All this time out there, I talked to the Devil, he was there present, I felt his presence, but he did not answer me , he kept quiet, and probably had lots of fun to see if I made it or not. A few more minutes in that cold ocean I would be crab meat. To Hell with you ! I made it !
Many months later I visited a home some south of there, the wife of the house had seen the whole event, but she did not even call anybody, she figured the poor bastard had no chance at all, and did not want to get involved, she did not know it was me, I was too proud to tell her, or anybody how careless I had been.