Chester Basin cottager rescues nine people from waters near Graves Island

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>TRACI COPAS, PHOTO</p><p>Ted Corkum, pictured July 12 after rescuing nine people from waters off Graves Island, Lunenburg County.</p>

Ted Corkum set out from his Chester Basin cottage eager to meet his daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids on Graves Island for a July 12 afternoon of mackerel fishing.

However, the fun-on-the-water would have to wait as the retired poultry company worker quickly found himself first-on-scene for a rescue mission.

As he approached the island, home to a provincial park, Corkum, travelling along solo in his Boston Whaler, noticed a group of people in the water and initially thought they were windsurfers having a rest.

"As I got closer, they were waving their arms," he told LighthouseNOW.

"One woman was talking ... on a telephone and the others were waving their arms frantically at me."

Five kids sitting on an upside down submerged boat and four adults were in the water.

Officials said the incident involved a 4.3-metre fibreglass watercraft with an outboard motor, and noted all occupants were wearing lifejackets.

The 2:40 p.m. call to 911 indicated that a wave had capsized their boat, Maj. Mark Gough, a spokesman for the rescue coordination centre operated by Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Air Force, previously told LighthouseNOW.

The group was about 120-metres from land, Corkum described. Gough said water depth in the area is about 18-metres.

"I think they were glad to see me, lets put it that way," Corkum said. "It didn't take long for them to get on my boat."

More civilian boats arrived after hearing a distress call over a marine radio frequency. The Canadian Coast Guard's inshore rescue crew also responded. RCMP, paramedics, and Chester volunteer firefighters were also notified about the incident.

Belongings floating in the water were retrieved. The motor was detached from the capsized boat and salvaged.

Corkum brought the group - and hauled their boat - ashore to the Graves Island launch, near the causeway. There were no injuries.

As he brought the group of nine in on his vessel, Corkum described the conversations taking place on board as "idle chatter" but didn't go into details about what was being said.

"They just had a bad experience," he said.

Meanwhile, members of Corkum's family who came in from Hants County - and waiting for the fishing trip - were casting lines from shore and had a front-row seat to what the 68-year-old accomplished.

His daughter, Traci Copas, took to social media praising her father's dramatic efforts.

For his part, Corkum is matter-of-fact about the whole thing.

"I just tried to help, that's all," he explained.

"I think I just did what anybody else would do in the same spot."

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