N.S. town awaits word on fate of 5 missing fishermen
Published Monday, February 18, 2013 11:53AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 18, 2013 10:50PM EST
A small Nova Scotia community is hoping ramped up search efforts will recover five fishermen whose boat went missing off the south coast.
Search efforts continued into the night for the 13-metre boat named Miss Ally that went missing Sunday.
A navy spokesman said a distress call was sent out at 11 p.m. Sunday. The five men were said to be fishing for halibut.
Two Canadian Coast Guard vessels and a Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter were searching the area Monday where the ship went under, about 120 kilometres off the coast of Liverpool, N.S., Lt. Peter Ryan said.
Earlier Monday, a U.S. Coast Guard jet reported seeing a life-raft, but the raft was not found.
Stormy weather conditions were hampering the search efforts.
“The weather out there was very poor, low visibility and high winds and very challenging seas,” Ryan told The Canadian Press.
Two military aircraft could also join the search, search spokesperson Cpt. Doug Keirstead said.
Meanwhile, friends of the fishermen said if anyone could survive the harsh weather conditions, it would be them.
Travis Lenox said the fishermen are “tough guys.”
“They are good fishermen, they know what they’re doing,” he said. “If there’s a five per cent chance that somebody could survive it, they’ll be the five.”
Alec Rodgerson, who knows two of the missing fishermen, said the crew had a “really good chance” of surviving if they managed to put on their survival suits and get in a raft.
However, there is always risk and danger on the seas, he said.
“It’s safe when everything’s going good, but it doesn’t take long for stuff to turn bad,” Rodgerson said.
The families of the fishermen have asked for privacy as they await word on their loved ones.
At Baccaro Point in southwestern Nova Scotia, wind gusts were tracked travelling at 80 to 90 kilometres throughout the night and into Monday morning.
Friends of the fishermen say the boat departed from a wharf in the small fishing community of Woods Harbour in Shelburne County, which is located near the Southwestern tip of Nova Scotia.
They were heading to fish in a place called “the gully” -- a spot near Sable Island where the ocean floor drops off.
On their way back home, the boat ran into snow, hurricane strength winds and large waves. A distress call went up around 11 p.m.
Eddie Nickerson, the warden of the Municipality of Barrington, said the community of 7,000 is also waiting for news from searchers.
"I know all of the boys that were on the boat," he told CP. "It's a fragile situation. ... I'm pretty sure (the crew) is all under the age of 30."
Stewart Franck, executive director of the Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia, said the industry must find ways to avoid boat sinkings.
"I'm sad that we're not there yet as far as an industry. ... Our hopes and prayers and best wishes go to the family and friends of the crew and the community,” said Franck, whose non-profit association represents about 1,300 Nova Scotian companies.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelland Sundahl and with files from The Canadian Press