“This Is My Wilson”: A Canadian Man Survived Rapids and Whirlpools Clinging to a Crab Float and Jerry Cans for Hours off Vancouver Island

by Owen James Burke

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Photo: CTV News.

“Kevin Strain is having difficulty deciding where he’ll hang the crab float he credits with saving his life,” the Vancouver Sun reports after Kevin Strain, who was not wearing a life jacket, remained alive and afloat for more than two hours thanks to a pair of 20-liter (6.6 gallon) fuel cans and a crab float to which he clung after the fishing vessel he was aboard struck a rock.

“This is my Wilson,” he told the Sun.


“First of all it was, ‘I’m going to die.’ Then it was, ‘Holy crap, I made it.’ Then it was, ‘If I don’t make it out of this I’m never going to see my family again.'” Photo credit: CTV News/Brittany Swanson.

Strain was helping a friend deliver the 65-foot Oliver Clark II to Vancouver from Malcolm Island when hit a rock in a series of rapids in the middle of the night between Stuart and Sonora Islands near Vancouver, ejecting him from the wheelhouse and into the cold dark channel.

Strain made it through the rapids and the series of whirlpools which followed, largely unscathed, but the current wasn’t going to let him ashore so easily. Swimming in a now waterlogged hoodie, the 50° fahrenheit (10° celsius) water temperature didn’t give him much chance either. It was also two o’clock in the morning, but the moon shone bright. Finding two jerry cans and a crab float in the wreckage, Strain propped himself up and began kicking his way through the current. More than two hours later, he made dry land.

But there was on a remote shoreline, and there was still the matter of being found. Another two passed before a civilian rescuer heard his calls.

Read more at the Vancouver Sun, and watch CTV News’ video below.


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