Kathy Schneider of Drumheller had her first experience watching whales a couple of weeks ago, and it will forever be memorable, and not just for the sights and sounds of the whales.
Kathy was visiting her son Cole and his wife Carla Schneider, both formerly of Drumheller, now residing in Nanaimo, when they decided to go on a whale-watching excursion with Vancouver Island Whale Watch.
“We went on a whale tour to go find some orcas and we started off with a rescue first,” Kathy tells the Mail. “It was certainly something none of us expected.”
They were about 15 minutes into their tour on the vessel Kula when the captain noticed a canoe struggling in the strong currents. They watched as the canoe flipped. Two people were in the water and were waving for help.
“We were only on a 12-person boat, so most of us spotted something in the water about the same time. As we got closer we knew it was two people struggling in the water,” she said.
The Kula went into rescue mode and approached the boaters in distress.
“It took a little maneuvering and a few tries to get a line to them,” she said. There were 12 passengers, a captain, and a marine biologist on board, so once they got the rope to the two men, my son Cole got up and helped them. I really don’t think without a third person they could have got that canoe in the boat, as well.
They took the boaters and canoe onboard and both were wearing their life jackets.
“It was really nice to see how concerned people are in situations like that. We just got them in the boat and gave them toques and mitts and gave them food. My daughter-in-law had a thermos of hot tea and we were giving them that because they were pretty chilly,” said Kathy.
One of the canoers gave Carla the phone number of his wife, so they were able to communicate with the rest of the family during the event.
She said the boaters were in the water for 5 to 10 minutes, and Kathy felt if it was any longer, hypothermia could have set in.
“It was really nice to see people come together and work to help people in distress like that,” said Kathy.
This was her first time on a whale watching tour and after the rescued canoers were on their way, they continued with the tour and saw about a half dozen whales.
“I would not forget the whale watching, but I would certainly not forget the rescue of the two canoers,” she said.