Distress beacon leads rescuers to kayaker off Vancouver Island

A kayaker who had dumped in the waters of Johnstone Strait on Saturday is alive and well in large part due to his distress beacon.

“Without that, we wouldn’t have been aware he was missing until he was overdue,” said Major Justin Olsen, of Victoria’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

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The kayaker triggered his SPOT satellite global positioning system about 2 p.m. after he landed in the water near Kelsey Bay, north of Campbell River. The man was carried away by swift currents almost immediately.

The beacon’s call to the RCMP was transferred to the rescue centre, which alerted the nearest vessel in the area — the General Jackson tugboat.

With the help of the GPS signal, the tugboat found the kayaker and had him on board about an hour later.

“He’s lucky he had that SPOT beacon,” Olsen said.

Three coast guard vessels also responded.

The Cape Palmerston, out of Campbell River, picked up the kayaker from the tug and took him to Kelsey Bay, where he was transferred to hospital with mild hypothermia, Olsen said.

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