The Tragedy of the Miss Ally – Part I
It was a grey day in February 2017 as Della Sears Newell sat at her kitchen table viewing a scrapbook containing pages of newspaper clippings, hand-written notes and an unofficial log of activities from the Joint Rescue Coordinating Centre (JRCC) in Halifax dated February 16 and 17, 2013.
Oblivious to the light snow falling outside her window, Della was at home on Cape Sable Island, just days before the fourth anniversary of the loss of her son.
Della is emotional and stressed, but also ...
Safety – Everybody’s Job
Safety in the fishing industry is different than in other industries.
Statistically, fishing is still the most dangerous occupation in the country outside the military and policing. We lose, on average, nearly a dozen fishermen every year. That high number is due in part to the fact that some accidents at sea cause multiple deaths, especially in these days of larger boats.
While no two fatal accidents are alike in the inshore fishing industry, there are often similarities. I once wrote ...
Houston, We Have a Problem – Part II
Last month, we told you about the U.S. barge Houston that was adrift in a bad storm near Port Hood, Cape Breton on December 17, 2007. The barge was not carrying cargo but did have approximately 9,000 gallons of fuel onboard and that was a huge environmental concern. If the Houston was pushed onto the rocky shores and punctured a hole in its hull, a fuel spill could be a catastrophe for marine life in the area. The Coast Guard ships Terry Fox and Edward Cornwallis were dispatched to the scene to ...
Houston, We Have a Problem
In the 1970s, a pop culture phrase for something gone wrong was “Houston, we have a problem.”
The line was attributed to astronaut James Lovell, commander of the Apollo 13 space mission in 1970 when the spacecraft developed a serious mechanical problem while in space, forcing abandonment of a planned attempt to land on the moon.
It is not exactly word for word what the astronaut said, but it was close enough to become an every-day catch phrase by those who lived in that era.
A few ...
In the early hours of an October morning in 2009, Captain Dean Hynes and his four-man crew were looking forward to getting home after a long evening and night mackerel seining off Stephenville on Newfoundland’s southwest coast.
Dean, from Fox Island River, was captain and owner of the Blue Islander, a 45-foot seiner. His crewmembers consisted of three brothers, who were also Dean’s cousins — Wally, Paddy and Doug Leroy. The fifth man was Shane Lafitte, a new addition to the crew. Shane ...
Dreamboat Turned Nightmare – Part V
Captain Byron Oxford and his eight-man crew survived a harrowing ordeal after the fishing vessel Atlantic Charger sank south of Baffin Island in September 2015.
For some of the survivors, the experience will haunt them forever. Captain Oxford said he battled anxiety while at sea for several months after the incident.
For the vessel’s owner, his battle was different and started after the loss of the Charger.
For nearly nine months following the loss of his vessel, Brad Watkins dealt ...
Dreamboat Turned Nightmare — Part IV
After tossing around in 20-foot seas in the Davis Strait for eight or nine hours, Captain Byron Oxford and his eight crewmembers heard the distinct sound of a ship’s horn. Looking through the canopy opening of their life raft, they saw a large ship in the distance. Approximately an hour later, the ship drew near and attempted to rescue the crew of the Atlantic Charger, but getting a small rubber raft safely alongside a large steel ship in heavy seas was not an easy task — let alone getting ...
Dreamboat Turned Nightmare — Part III
Jumping from a sinking ship into a bitterly cold ocean just south of the Arctic Circle was the most daunting event in the lives of Captain Byron Oxford and eight crewmembers of the fishing vessel Atlantic Charger. But they had no choice. On September 22, 2015, their vessel was filling with water and listing badly to starboard. Their only hope was to try and get into a rubber life raft and hope the raging seas didn’t kill them. This is Part III of ‘Dreamboat Turned Nightmare.’
Dreamboat Turned Nightmare — Part II
The Atlantic Charger was probably the best equipped Newfoundland vessel in its class in 2015, but the Northwest Atlantic Ocean once again demonstrated its awesome power when the Charger was trying to get home to Newfoundland after fishing turbot in the Davis Strait, east of Baffin Island. On September 22, 2015, two mighty waves overwhelmed the vessel. Captain Byron Oxford and his eight crewmembers were forced to abandon ship. Their struggle to survive rivaled scenes you only see in movies. This ...
Dreamboat Turned Nightmare
The Atlantic Charger was an exceptional fishing vessel.
Built in 2012 at a cost of $2.5 million, the Charger was the most modern and best-equipped vessel in the Newfoundland and Labrador inshore fishing fleet.
Measuring nearly 70 feet long and 26 feet wide, it was one of the largest, if not the largest, vessel of its class. But no vessel is indestructible when confronted by the decimating powers of the northwest Atlantic Ocean, whether is due to ice infested waters or rough seas.