Weekend wind crashes wedding

August 23, 2016 7:49 A.M.

By WAYNE MOORE

There was an unwanted guest at a wedding reception in Kelowna Sunday evening on Okanagan Lake.

Mother Nature.

Sandy Campbell was one of nearly 60 guests aboard a houseboat called The Boardroom for her nephew's wedding reception.

Little did any of them know, the scheduled four-hour celebration would turn into a 6 1/2 hour adventure when winds, gusting to 70 km/h and more whipped up the lake.

Campbell spoke with Castanet Monday. She said everything started out as intended.

It was a beautiful night, just a breeze on the lake.

"We cruised for a couple of hours, then went downstairs for a beautiful meal. Everything was good, the bride and groom cut the cake," said Campbell.

"The wind was picking up a little bit, then a number of people went upstairs to start dancing when the wind suddenly changed. Somebody came running downstairs and said the canopies on the top of the boat were ripping off."

She said when people grabbed them to hold on to them, their feet were lifting off the ground.

They decided to cut them and let the canopies go.

Shortly thereafter, a large, heavy table on the top deck of the houseboat blew overboard.

"The few that were up there came down fairly quickly, and, as the waves and wind got worse, we heard more crashes and bangs, which we assumed were chairs and other things that may have also gone overboard."

Soon after, Campbell said the crew began handing out lifejackets to all the passengers as a precaution.

"Everybody was calm, nobody panicked. But, we were told the wind was coming from a lot of different directions and the fellow driving the boat was steering into the wind," she said.

"We were out on the lake going around in circles trying to get into the wind. At no time was there any major tilt to one side or another."

Campbell said they were told the boat could not safely dock on the Kelowna side of the lake, so they sailed around until they could find somewhere to dock.

"We were all just talking and feeling a bit of concern because there was no destination in sight."

Eventually, sometime after 11 p.m., they were able to make their way to the Westside, just north of the old ferry dock.

Shortly after they got there, with the winds a lot calmer, Campbell said they heard the sound of police boats coming their way.

"It was a very welcome sight that we were not alone out there anymore. And, a helicopter came overhead and shone its searchlight all around us.

"They came on the intercom and told us they were going to take us off the boat and onto these police rescue boats. Then, we would be bused back to Kelowna."

Throughout the entire ordeal, Campbell said the crew of The Boardroom was nothing short of amazing.

Ironically, she said once they got back to where they had started several hours earlier, the houseboat was docked.

It's a wedding reception she said nobody on board will soon forget.

"One gal that was on the boat said I'm never getting married now, because I could never top this."

No one was hurt during the ordeal.

www.castanet.net

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