Dave Martynuik posted a jaunty message on his Facebook page May 7: “Prawnin ! See you in July.”
Two days later, disaster struck.
Despite being a clear day, strong waves hit and engulfed his boat, MV Pacific Siren. Martynuik and his fishing companions — brother Brian and friend Jesse Brillon — got into their life raft just in time to the see their vessel go down in the Hecate Strait off the coast of northern B.C.
After being lost at sea for several hours, the trio reached land — Banks Island across from Haida Gwaii. But their adventure was only beginning. For the next 10 days they were stranded on the remote island, living off seaweed and clams and foraging debris that had washed ashore.
“When we finally got to land after all those hours wet and sitting in water in that boat, we looked at each other and one of us said, ‘Well boys, we’re on our own,’ ” Brillon said.
The fishermen said they knew it would take a long time before they would be rescued.
The remote island is uninhabited and without any communications devices so their only chance of being rescued was to be spotted by someone sailing past or flying past. A plane flew by just once during their 10 days there.
Brillon set about looking for materials that could be used to signal for help while Dave Martynuik and Brian Martynuik went in search of water and debris that could be fashioned into shelter. What they found was an isolated island, where tonnes of junk had washed ashore. They fashioned shoes out of Styrofoam for Brian Martynuik, a size 13. His brother, a size 10, was able to find one Croc and one sandal that fit him.
Brillon found an oil drum with oil still inside and used it as paint to write out SOS.
“There were thousands of plastic bottles, ping pong balls, flip flops. Tonnes of junk and I looked for the brightest colour junk to hang around the shore and put it on the highest point to make ourselves visible,” said Brillon. 72MFS4UZZK5U