Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Days of Sorrow

It's impossible to live in a small, closely-knit coastal community and not feel the effects of harrowing loss. Southwestern Nova Scotia is experiencing such sorrow, with the sudden and tragic loss of the halibut-fishing boat Miss Ally and the five young men on board.  The skipper was Katlin Nickerson of Wood's Harbour, and with him on the voyage were Joel Hopkins, Cole Nickerson, and Tyson Townsend, all of Wood's Harbour as well, and Billy Jack Hatfield from nearby Cape Sable Island.  The five set out in the 14-metre Cape Islander on February 12, 2013 to pursue the winter halibut fishery, which takes place in during the worst of winter's storms and gales. After the boat's emergency beacon was activated on Sunday night, searchers were hampered by sea conditions that included wind, freezing spray and waves of 10 metres or more. Several aircraft, two Coast Guard vessels and various merchant vessels took part in the search, but the search area was broad and the sea conditions far from ideal. The fishing communities of Southwestern Nova Scotia waited, tension thick in the air, while the search continued; nighttime brought a gesture of solidarity throughout the region as homes up and down the shore left a light on through the night to speed the men's safe return. It was all to no avail, though, as the search was called off on Tuesday evening.   In addition to other family members, the captain and crew of the Miss Ally leave behind a total of six children. Hearts are heavy along the shore today.

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