A standup paddleboarder is thankful to be alive and a Conservation Officer (CO) has turned that thankfulness into a teachable moment.
CO Simon Gravel was out patrolling Howe Sound just after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, when he and a work experience student with him noticed someone in struggling in the water. A woman on a standup paddleboard (SUP) between Porteau and Britannia had fallen off her board into Howe Sound.
"She fell down and her board went away and she could not reach it back," Gravel said the day after the incident.
"With the very cold water and the wind she could not swim for very long so we approached her and we got her out of the water just in time. She had no energy left."
Gravel said the situation was made worse by the fact that the former Squamish resident, who was paddling northbound, wasn't wearing a personal floatation device (PFD) and she didn't have a foot strap to ensure her board couldn't get away on her. Her travel companion was about 500 metres away at the time.
Gravel said the companion was too far away and upwind of the incident so getting to the woman in time to save her would have been difficult. "She was fighting for her life," he said.
The CO and his helper treated the woman for hypothermia and returned her to the shore where, according to Gravel, she made a full recovery.
"It's a good ending," said Gravel. "It was a close one, fore sure."
Gravel cautioned that when adventure seekers take to the water, all required safety gear must be used.
"The Conservation Officer Service will do some patrol," said the CO. "We will increase our patrol on water just to enforce the regulations. People need a PFD when they adventure on the water."
This time, Gravel said the woman who fell was lucky a boat just happened to be close by to rescue her.