A weekend that began with a horrible shock ended in celebration for Tofino couple Jesse and Nicki Blake who were reunited with their boat roughly 24 hours after reporting it stolen.
“It’s just such a horrible feeling to be robbed like that from your home,” Jesse told the Westerly News.
“It was an unbelievably gross feeling and then just to have my boat back and seeing the community be so supportive; you don’t know you have a community until they’ve got your back like that.”
The pair had recently returned from a trip to Nova Scotia to discover their 17’ boat Calais was missing from in front of their Jensen’s Bay Road home.
Jesse said he was not initially concerned because he had told some friends they could borrow the boat while he was out of town but, when he called to ask where it was, they said they had not used it.
The boat was reported stolen on Friday and news of its theft quickly spread throughout the community, leading to its retrieval on Saturday. Jesse said a man, who has asked to remain anonymous, had discovered the boat hidden under some brush while deer hunting near Ucluelet roughly two weeks ago.
He said the man told him that he had reported finding the boat to an RCMP anonymous tip-line.
“It was a bit frustrating because this was reported a couple of weeks ago to the RCMP. It wasn’t reported stolen, it was just reported that there was a suspicious boat stashed in the trees,” Jesse said.
“It was covered with freshly cut cedars and was stashed in there and, when [the hunter] walked up on it, he actually got really spooked because of the way it looked. It looked like someone was trying to hide something.”
The boat was in the same spot the hunter had found it in when Jesse arrived to retrieve it on Saturday and he believes whoever stashed it there was familiar with the area.
“It’s a really overgrown spur they drove into and there’s just a little back pull-out where they could back the boat in and then turn their truck around and get out,” Jesse said. “So, whoever did it knew this spot.”
He said friends and neighbours suggested the boat was gone shortly after the couple left for Nova Scotia on Sept. 11.
“It basically went missing pretty much right after we left,” he said.
He said three full gas tanks, a flare gun, fire extinguisher and radio were missing, but the vessel was otherwise intact.
“We were stoked..You go from the worst feelings to the best. I was so disgusted. I was furious. I was so angry,” he said adding that experiencing his community rally around him was eye-opening and heartwarming.
“Even before my boat was found, the amount of people that were supportive and the amount of [social media] shares and the amount of outrage from the community too that something like this happened, it was nice to see.”
Sgt. Todd Pebernat of the Tofino RCMP told the Westerly News on Sunday that an investigation into the vessel’s theft is ongoing and he asks anyone with any information, or who saw something suspicious, to immediately contact the Tofino RCMP at 250-725-3242 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.