Gillnetter collides with smaller pleasure craft

Gillnetter may have been asleep at the ship's wheel

An East Sooke man was leisurely fishing off of Secretary Island when a gillnetter collided with his 28-foot pleasure boat on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 21.

Paul Barrett was packing up his gear and preparing to go home after a morning of fishing, when he spotted a gillnetter travelling towards him at about 14 knots.

“I saw the guy coming down and initially I turned to starboard to show him my red, usually when you do something safe, you do red-to-red of your portside,” Barrett said.

He expected the gillnetter to safely pass him, but the oncoming vessel continued in the same direction.

“I turned for him a second time and he still seemed like he was coming towards me.”

At the very same moment, one of Barret’s fishing rods snagged a fish. When he looked up, the gill netter was headed for his right-side, so he turned the boat and managed to get it to travel 2.5 knots.

“I just cranked it right over hard to port as quickly as I could, and he clipped my starboard-side and punched out my windows on the boat,” Barrett said.

The last thing Barrett noticed before the gillnetter collided with his boat was a fisherman allegedly, “dead asleep at the wheel.”

Being a commercial fisherman for several years, Barrett has seen many “hairy instances,” but the local mishap still left him shaken.

“It scared me, I was pretty scared,” he said. “Too close for comfort that’s for sure.”

The RCMP and Canadian Coast Guard responded, and Barrett and his boat were taken to the Government Wharf.

According to the Const. Robin Critchley, the gillnetter is believed to be part of the commercial fishing fleet out of Stevenston, Richmond.

The driver of the gillnetter has been charged with operating a vessel without due care and attention.

It is unconfirmed whether he was actually asleep at the wheel.