Vancouver Police help rescue paddleboarders stranded in First Narrows

VANCOUVER Police on Tuesday reminded paddleboarders and kayakers to use caution on the water after 17 wayward paddleboarders had to be rescued from heavy wind and waves near the Lions Gate Bridge on Monday.

“This mishap is a good reminder for anyone venturing out on the water to stay close to shore if you don’t have the skills and experience to safely navigate in open water,” said Sgt. Steve Addison. “Unfortunately, this group thought there was safety in numbers, and they greatly underestimated the conditions.”

The VPD’s Marine Unit assisted in the rescue just before 3 p.m. on Monday after 30 paddleboarders tried to cross English Bay in high winds and a strong current. The group set out from Jericho, and was trying to reach Ambleside in West Vancouver when more than half the group got caught in the current.

“Their lack of experience, combined with wind, tides, and waves created by heavy marine traffic, pushed the paddleboarders into a treacherous situation,” said Addison.

The VPD was called to assist after a Vancouver-Fraser Port Authority tugboat operator spotted the paddleboarders struggling near the Lions Gate Bridge. The Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue also came to help. Working together, the four agencies rescued the 17 stranded paddleboarders and ferried them back to shore. Thirteen others managed to make it across the narrows to the North Shore.

The VPD is reminding anyone heading out on the water that human-powered vessels like paddleboards and kayaks are not permitted between Siwash Rock and the Berry Point refinery, located east of the Second Narrows Bridge in Burnaby. Monday’s incident is also an important reminder that the shipping lane in Burrard Inlet can be extremely dangerous due to wind, tides, and heavy boat traffic.