Saskatchewan fires - Navionics customer escapes dangerous conditions

A Navionics customer asked us to share his story of how Navionics may have helped save his family’s lives during one particularly frightening day at the start of what would be an extreme wildfire season in northern Saskatchewan. Boyd Krakowka purchased his first Navionics card, a HotMaps Platinum, and chartplotter just over a year ago, after using the Navionics app on his mobile device for some time.

On June 7, 2015, Boyd and his brother-in-law went fishing on Nemeiben Lake near their home in Saskatchewan, Canada. That morning, seven family members headed out on two boats to fish, as they have done for more than 30 years. They travelled by water approximately 20 miles through a maze of islands, reefs and narrow channels toward the North Bay in search of lake trout. Although very familiar with the lake that is partly mapped by Navionics, Boyd also used his Lowrance HDS9 to track and mark his trail, as he normally does as a backup, when leaving the dock.

In his words, “Well this unfolded to a day I will never forget. We knew there were lightning strikes the day before and suspected there were fires many miles away from where we were going. After 6 hours on the lake the winds picked up and the sun changed to an orange color. This was strange so we headed for the dock at 4:00 pm. When we had a visual of our one and only trail back we knew we were in trouble. Visibility dropped to 50 meters or less.... the entire area surrounding the lake was on fire. The fire jumped 1/2 mile or more and every island was on fire.”

Boyd continued, “Within minutes everyone lost all sense of direction and we were lost. The only way home was to trust the recorded path and follow the instruments for nearly an hour and when we came out the smoke it was like we were in the middle of a movie set.”

Throughout this wildfire season in Saskatchewan, hundreds of fires burned millions of hectares and caused tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes. However Boyd, a semi-retired farmer and seasonal logger, stayed behind to assist with providing emergency services.

Although every boater understands the risks normally associated with boating, particularly weather and equipment problems, we are grateful that our products may have played a role in helping our customers make it home safely during this dangerous situation.