Navy Lt. Paul Pendergast of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria said Monday that authorities were notified at 1:56 p.m. that the aircraft crashed on takeoff in Trincomali Channel, located between Galiano and Salt Spring Island.
A Canadian Coast Guard lifeboat, a B.C. Ferry, and Cormorant and Sea King helicopters responded, he said, but a pleasure craft arrived first on scene.
"People had already gotten to the outside of the plane and then climbed from the plane onto this pleasure craft," he said, noting the men were then transferred to the coast guard vessel.
Canadian Coast Guard spokesman Dan Bate said the ferry and military aircraft were called off.
Pendergast said the men were taken to the Salt Spring Island community of Ganges, where they were checked out by paramedics with no reported injuries.
The float plane was towed to a local island where it was tied up to a jetty, he added.
"We're just grateful that the local assets responded quickly and got to the scene and were able to get the people off the plane," said Pendergast.
Transportation Safety Board spokesman John Cottreau said the federal agency has decided not to deploy investigators to the scene.