Fast-thinking locals helped save two cats from drowning in a sinking boat Friday in Mannion Bay.
“It’s just awful,” said Bonny Brokenshire of the Bowen Island Municipality, relating the incident involving a boat that appears to have been abandoned on the island’s shores.
But, she said, this time the boat in question wasn’t left empty.
“It was reported that there were two cats on board,” she said.
“This is very unfortunate that somebody had left the cats on the boat, gone back to Alberta, and had somebody checking periodically on the cats.”
The situation was dire, she said.
“I really credit Ivor Kerr for responding very quickly and saving the cats,” Brokenshire said. “He could see one of the paws of the cats trying to get out of the bow because the bow was still above water.”
We spoke with Kerr on Tuesday about the cat rescue.
“We were out in Mannion Bay to look at the sailboat that had just sunk,” he said, estimating this was about 2 p.m. Friday.
“And when we got there, there was a couple of people trying to save a couple of cats with a rowboat,” he said.
He used the crane on the barge to move the sinking boat to the shore, he said, adding this took about 35 minutes or so. The cats were visible from the boat, he said.
“They were sticking their paws out of the little hole where the chain comes out for the anchor which was pretty sad.”
The RCMP and Coast Guard also attended, said Kerr.
Proving ownership of abandoned boats is not easy, said Brokenshire.
In the case of the boat in Mannion Bay, Brokenshire said, the last-known owner said he’d sold the boat to someone on Bowen Island for a “song and a dance.”
That individual refuted the claim when contacted, said Brokenshire.
“In my experience when a boat is floating, it’s generally owned by somebody,” she said. “When it’s submerged or sunk or wrecked, it seems like it’s not anybody’s boat.”
The municipality has begun the process of applying for authorization to remove the boat, and to seek funding from the federal abandoned boats program.
“Between the boat in Seymour Bay and the boat on the beach in Mannion Bay, even if we are able to obtain some of the abandoned boat program money, we’re still on the hook for 25 per cent of the cost,” she said.
Removing the boat on Seymour Bay is estimated at about $7,500 and the boat at Mannion Bay, about $5,000, she said.