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RCMP confirm deaths of Victoria brothers who went missing while kayaking

The two brothers went missing while kayaking in a two-person kayak between Island View Beach and the Gulf Islands on April 20.
Nicolas West, 26, left, and Daniel MacAlpine, 36, left D’Arcy Island for Island View Beach in a teal blue fibreglass tandem kayak at 2:15 p.m. Saturday. VIA SIDNEY/NORTH SAANICH RCMP

The RCMP have confirmed the bodies recovered by American authorities this week are those of missing kayakers Nicolas West, 26, and Daniel MacAlpine, 36, of Victoria.

“Sidney/North Saanich RCMP would like to thank all the agencies that were involved in this search and subsequent recovery efforts,” said Staff Sergeant Wayne Conley in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Our thoughts are with the families at this time.”

The two brothers went missing while kayaking in a two-person kayak between Island View Beach and the Gulf Islands April 20.

The bodies were recovered off San Juan Island.

San Juan County Sheriff Eric Peter said the first body was reported about 3 p.m. Monday, and was found floating in the water against the rocks in Grandma’s Cove, on the west side of San Juan Island.

“Deputies responded on land to the location and spotted the body,” he said. 

Peter said the sheriff department’s boat was launched and recovered a male’s body, and turned it over to the coroner’s office. 

A second report about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday was of a body floating in Middle Channel, south of Cattle Point at the southernmost point of San Juan Island and west of Iceberg Point. 

The sheriff’s boat was again deployed and recovered a male’s body that was turned over to the coroner. 

“The identities of the persons recovered has yet to be determined and out of respect for the families, the sheriff’s office will not speculate as to whether these are the missing Canadian kayakers,” said Peter. 

MacAlpine, who worked in a Victoria autobody shop, and West left D’Arcy Island in a two-person fibreglass kayak at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, according to the RCMP.

Their empty kayak was found Sunday on Henry Island, about five kilometres northeast of D’Arcy Island in American waters.

South Island Sea Kayaking Association vice-president B.J. Porter, who led a Sunday trip from Island View Beach to D’Arcy Island and back, said the crossing takes about an hour “even for experienced paddlers.” 

Local waters are “so deceptive” and problems can arise quickly, Porter said. 

Paddlers in the group made the return trip to Island View on Sunday in winds up to 15 knots, which presented some difficulty, Porter said. 

She said she had looked at the forecast for Saturday as well as Sunday, and noted that Saturday’s wind in the area got up to 17 to 27 knots. 

Since the wind was from the southwest, it is understandable that the men’s kayak was found in the United States, Porter said. 

Police, search-and-rescue crews, and the Canadian Coast Guard were engaged in the search since the two were reported missing on Saturday.