Just one more of my stupid moments

Overturned boat - Ocean Park

I am writing this June 2nd 2008 – it has been sitting in the back of my brain for twenty years or so, I guess I should let it out.

It was Boxing Day 1987; I was relaxing after a large lunch of Turkey sandwiches from the leftover Christmas meal. Sandra decided we (Cameron, her four year old and me) should go for a walk along the beach at Crescent Beach in Surrey.

It wasn’t really a good day for walking, the wind was blowing at about twenty knots it was about 6C and there was a light rain. However we drove out and parked at the end of Sullivan St. close to the walk along the sea front (there was very little traffic).

We started walking along with the wind at our backs, stopping often to throw rocks or look at dead things that had come in with the tide. Cameron (or maybe it was me) whined from time to time about the cold and rain. In any event we continued on toward Blacky’s Spit. As we approached the small dock at the end of Wickson Rd. I was just about to announce I had had enough of this fresh air stuff when we heard a woman shouting. She was yelling frantically to us against the wind and at first I had no idea what the problem was, but the three of us started to run toward her.
As we got closer I noticed an overturned boat about a hundred yards off shore and then heard the anguished cries of a father.

“Help, help, my son is trapped under the boat, help, help.”

It was then I saw a mans head around the far side of the upturned boat. I ran down the dock toward a small cabin cruiser, it had a small skiff tied to the top of the cabin. I immediately untied the rope and dragged the skiff to the edge of the dock- there were no oars or paddles anywhere. Suddenly I notice a small one by four board about three feet long a few feet away. I grabbed the board and dropped the skiff into the water and jumped in. I noticed there seemed to be a bit of water in the bottom of the skiff but I never gave it a thought as I began furiously paddling (I guess it was more like thrashing at the water) toward the overturned boat.
It was only then I realized I had on a very heavy leather trench coat on. It restricted me more than somewhat, but I was getting close to the boat. I reckon I was about ten feet from the hull when I realized three things simultaneously, first my skiff was almost full of water and secondly there was a hole in the bottom of the skiff about eight inches square, yes I remember that clearly the hole was square!

Lastly I was sinking.

It took all of about five seconds for the skiff to disappear from under me. Man was the water cold. Now I was s pretty good swimmer and a healthy fifty-year-old man, as such I was not to worried about getting into the water. In fact I had some sort of a fuzzy idea that I was going to dive under the overturned boat when I got there, and comfort/rescue the child.
All this changed as I began to sink beneath the water, I could hardly keep my head above the water and my winter clothes, particularly the leather coat and my heavy leather boots, seemed to be like an anchor. I was only a few feet from the upturned hull. I managed to reach it but there was nothing to hold onto. I kept slipping off and sinking under the water. Suddenly I realized this was very serious and I was probably going to drown within a few minutes. I couldn’t hear the man anymore, but I thought I could still hear the Mother screaming.
Within a few moments a large fishing boat with several young men aboard appeared from out of nowhere about five feet away from me. They yelled and waved at me to swim over to there boat. I started to paddle the few feet to the side of there craft when I again went under. As I surfaced I was right against the side. A strong hand grabbed my leather collar and started to drag me up the side, but he couldn’t hold on and I slipped under the water again. He got hold of me again and another pair of hands got the other side of me, but they couldn’t get my over the side. Suddenly two very strong hands got me by the throat and the three of them heaved me onto the deck. I lay there cold and in shock, a few guys dragged me into small cabin, and they went back to help get the boy and his dad out of the water. It seemed only a few seconds when two ambulance drivers came in and threw a warm blanket over me and sort of dragged me along the dock to the waiting ambulance. I noticed the man and his son on the floor of the boat as they dragged me past them.
As we passed the Mother she thanked me profusely, I couldn’t respond. They left me in the warm ambulance and said to wait there till they got back. I was still rather numb and confused. After a few minutes I felt much better, I opened the ambulance’s back door and got out. I noticed Sandra had moved the car to the end of the dock. I went over got in and drove home to a hot shower – Sandra offered to drive but I was stubborn and insisted. I had a hot shower when we got home. It may seem strange, but we have hardly ever spoken about that day since.

When I went into work at Lakeview Realty a few days later Ron, a co-worker came over and in a rather to loud voice said.
“Just what the hell did you think you were doing in the water at Crescent Beach on Boxing Day?”
“Were you there?”
“Just got there to see you sink.”
We left it at that.

To this day I do not know what happed to the Father and Son I vaguely recall that Beth mentioned she saw something in the paper about the incident, I’m sure if they were seriously injured she would have mentioned it. I am going to go to the Peace Arch News in a day or so and see if I can find the names of the family in the Archives. I feel a little nagging in my soul to finalize this incident.

I never really have never spoken about this misadventure to anyone since.
It is now Oct 15th 2008 - about 22 years since the above took place - I finally got over to the Peace Arch News. They did not have their papers on microfich, but they did have the full papers bundled in large yearly books. They let me spend some time with them until I found the above account of my little story. Unfortunatly they would not let me take the paper out of the large book - thus the rather poor reproduction
It is too bad the article did not mention the names of the Father and Son, I guess I will have to do a bit more digging.
larry bennett


  1. It is funny how even though I am much younger then you my memory is more vauge. I guess since I wasn't in the water. Other then thinking, "oh no, there goes my dad off to be a hero again" I was thinking, "oh no, what will I tell mom" and how the heck to I get this car in gear, cant remember what it was you were driving, just that it took me a long time to move it to where the ambulance was.

  2. There is that life long question " What would I do if " well you don't have to wonder .



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