Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Siyay motors slowly up the Somass River past Clutesi Haven Marina as it replaces navigational buoys on Sept. 15, 2021. The hovercraft, measuring 28.5 metres long by 12 metres wide, travelled from Richmond, B.C. around the bottom end of Vancouver Island to come up the Alberni Inlet. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Coast Guard hovercraft not a common sight in Port Alberni waters

29-metre CCGS Siyay made rare visit to Alberni Inlet

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.

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Alberni Valley News


Crew members aboard the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Siyay replace navigational buoys in the Somass River on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The 29-metre long hovercraft came to the Alberni Inlet from Richmond, B.C., where it is based. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)