Safety board urges caution after B.C. water taxi crashes in thick fog

RICHMOND, B.C. — The Transportation Safety Board has issued a warning to small boat operators that they shouldn’t rely on a single electronic navigation aid, after a water taxi rammed a rock in thick fog off Tofino, B.C.

A report from the board says four of the five people aboard the Rocky Pass were injured when the boat came to an abrupt stop on the rocks on Jan. 25, 2022.

The operator, who had 20 years of experience captaining the taxi, was using GPS in very foggy conditions when the navigation device froze.

The board’s report says the operator was attempting to reset the device when he saw the rock directly in front of the vessel.

The taxi was on its way to the nearby First Nation reserve of Ahousaht and the report says Transport Canada reached out to the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council about occurrences around Tofino Harbour in 2021 and early 2022 to “better understand the Council’s perspectives about transportation safety in the Tofino area.”

The board’s safety message to vessel operators is to carefully assess their route, use a safe speed, consider the weather and not rely on a single electronic navigational aid, especially in restricted visibility.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2023.

The Canadian Press