The Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Siyay visited the Alberni Inlet on Sept. 15, drawing a crowd along the Somass River.
The hovercraft was in Alberni Valley waters to replace navigational buoys in the river. Once they left Port Alberni waters they headed back to Ucluelet, before making the trip around the south end of Vancouver Island and back to their homebase at Sea Island in Richmond, B.C.
The Siyay is 29 metres long and 12 metres wide, and not a common sight in western Vancouver Island waters. The Siyay has a maximum speed of 50 knots, but it was not operating at that speed while on the Somass.
Launched in 1998, the Siyay (Salish word for ‘friend’) is used for rescues as well as replacing navigational buoys and lights. Part of its construction includes a crane that crews use to lift the buoys for inspection and replacement.