A White Rock RCMP officer speaks to Peter Gunstone Friday morning, after pier visitors reported a man tying his sailboat to the structure. (Tracy Holmes photo)

City workers, police called after sailboat owner ties up to middle of White Rock Pier

Boat owner says manoeuvre that left craft high and dry was intentional, ‘not a threat’

Reports of a boater tying up to White Rock Pier – not far from the pierhead – brought police and city workers to the waterfront Friday (June 26).

City workers said they were alerted to the issue at around 10:45 a.m., and said the situation raised concerns for public safety, as well as the potential for damage to the pier.

“It looks pretty derelict, we just don’t want it to fall on anyone,” one of the workers said.

The worker said crews untied the craft – which was unattended on the east side of the pier when they arrived at the scene at around 10:45 a.m. – from the pier, and secured it temporarily to hold it away from the structure. A salvage company was called to assess whether it could be towed out.

Jeremy Birch of Mad Props Marine said nothing could be done until high tide, around 10 p.m.

“This is here all day,” he said.

Birch, noting his company spent 25 days helping with the cleanup effort that followed the December 2018 storm that damaged the pier, said while the situation was stable when he arrived at around 12:30 p.m., given the changing conditions, it “could become very easily a hazard.”

“We’ve got some winds coming tonight,” Birch said.

READ MORE: VIDEO: White Rock pier destroyed by storm, stranded man rescued

A man who identified himself as the boat owner returned to the scene around noon. Advised by the city workers that a salvage crew was coming to tow it out to the dock, Peter Gunstone replied, “nobody’s touching this boat.”

Gunstone continued to decline assistance with the craft, including after speaking with RCMP.

He told Peace Arch News that he and his girlfriend René Braun had sailed from the Nicomekl River area. He made the intentional stop and connection to the pier in hopes he could tip the 26-foot boat towards it and use the structure to better access a tangled Canadian flag at the top of his craft’s mast, he said.

“I put it right here,” he said. “I was hoping to use the pier as my tool to help a mariner.

“I’m not stuck,” he continued. “I’m right where I want to be.”

Gunstone said his boat was not a threat, and that the couple would float away on it when the tide came in.

In a statement to PAN Friday afternoon, city chief administrative officer Guillermo Ferrero said staff “are now managing the boat, moving it to shore and having it relocated.”

“An RCMP officer was on the Pier earlier to ensure crowds didn’t gather. Bylaw Enforcement is now at the Pier to ensure people continue moving and are not gathering,” Ferrero added.


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