When a Welcome Home Becomes a Rescue

An act of friendship to tow a solo sailor into customs after a 90-day Pacific cruise turns into a tense hide-and-seek in a fog-bound channel.


Bill had been sailing single handed aboard his Bristol Channel Cutter 28 Pixie for nearly 90 days from Christchurch, New Zealand to Victoria, British Columbia. It was the last leg of a year-long circumnavigation. Days of pristine ocean sailing were interspersed with alternating calms and gales. Prior to making landfall in New Zealand, Bill and Pixie had suffered a severe knock down while crossing the Indian Ocean. The mishap had caused severe flooding below decks. Repairs had been made, but on this last leg, the effects of salt-water intrusion seized the starter on Pixie’s auxiliary diesel, leaving Bill to rely on his transom-mounted water generator to charge his batteries. Although Pixie was equipped with a complete suite of electronics, including an AIS transceiver, approaching the coast of British Columbia Bill reported Pixie had very low batteries and, as a result, limited communications. Friends and family waiting ashore had only the YB Tracker, a satellite signaling device, to follow Pixie’s progress.

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Bert Vermeer
As a coastal cruiser (and occasional racer), Bert Vermeer has sailed the coast of British Columbia for more than 40 years. With his wife Carey and daughter Nicky (and eventually granddaughter Natasha) in tow, Bert has gained an appreciation for the fabulous cruising grounds of the Canadian west coast. Based on his experience as a hands-on boater, he established a marine-based business after completing his police career. He now maintains, renovates and upgrades sail and power boats for local and non-resident owners in the off-season.