The Vancouver Province contains a dramatic story involving the Canadian Air Force’s rescue of two British Columbia sailors whose storm battered sailboat was pitching wildly in 80 km/h winds and high waves near the Queen Charlotte Islands.

The Canadian Air Force deployed a helicopter to try and winch the two men off the deck of the Magnolia sailboat but the torn rigging and swaying mast posed a hazard. A photo of the sailboat, illuminated by a helicopter spotlight, is to the right.  

Meanwhile, the Star Princess cruise ship was nearby heading to Alaska.

Everyone remembers the Star Princess. The notorious cruise ship recently made the headline when it sailed by three Magnolia Sailboat RescuePanamanian men in the little fishing boat, 50 Cents, leaving two men to perish at sea, while three cruise passengers pleaded for the cruise ship to stop and assist the disabled fishing boat. We wrote about the dreadful incident – Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners in Distress?

This time the Star Princess didn’t look the other way.

As explained in the Vancouver Province, the giant ship tried to break the wind and calm the waves. But instead the cruise ship’s presence added to the danger because the wind and current would move the cruise ship in unexpected directions. "It drifted much too fast towards us," said a Canadian Air Force rescuer who was in the water at the scene.

The helicopter diver had to drop into the water twice and then swim over to the bobbing sailboat to rescue the men.

The helicopter eventually lifted the two sailors to safety, and the Star Princess headed on to Alaska.  

If you were on the Star Princess and have photos, video or comments about the rescue to share, please let us hear from you.


Consider reading:

Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas


Photo: Canadian Air Force (Sgt Robin Richardson, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron)


    This was a scary, but amazing rescue. Very cool to have been able to see! The mast on the sailboat looked as if they were slamming down on the waves, as it bobbed violently from side to side. When the boat came back up it looked as if the mast were going to take out the helicopter that was shining a spotlight from above to capture the passengers of the vessel and at times the sailboat got so close to our cruise ship we started to wonder if the waves were going to force our boats to collide. What an experience!

  • A&F, SF

    We were there and saw the whole rescue. It really is not easy to do rescue at sea and happy to see the positive outcome. Beside the two men were rescued, we are also pleased to learn the 3 passenger (the dog) was rescued too.
    However, most of the passengers plans in Ketchikan had to cancelled because the ship arrived 6 hours late.

  • Norma

    Saw the whole rescue from the Star Princess. Glad that the outcome was positive. Will never forget this cruise. Our plans were cancelled in Ketchikan because we arrived 6 hours late but no matter.

  • Barbara

    We were with a group of folks who watched until about 1:30 a.m., at which time no progress seemed to be made — just the helicopter hovering with its spotlight over the sailboat, and a freighter in the distance. We were all relieved to hear the next day that the rescue had been accomplished. A dog was mentioned, and we heard different stories about when it was rescued, then found out from the video interview of one of the sailors that there was a cat onboard, too. Happy ending for all, it seems, got which we were ALL very thankful!