Crew of fishing vessel that went down off Baffin Island reunited with families

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — One of nine men who survived 10 hours adrift in a life-raft off Baffin Island says he doesn’t know what caused his ship to sink, but that he won’t let the trying ordeal stop him from going back to sea.

The crew of the Atlantic Charger stepped onto dry land in Harbour Grace, N.L., on Friday after a week-long journey from Frobisher Bay where their fishing vessel went down Monday afternoon.

Winston Dearing was greeted by his wife and said that even though he and his mates endured rough, four-metre seas and an uncertain fate, the experience was probably tougher on their families.

“I’m sure it was a lot harder on the family and friends at home than us,” said Dearing. “We knew what was happening. We kind of had some control of our destiny, but they didn’t know.” 

The nine men all donned survival suits and made it onto a life-raft, where they fired off flares that caught the attention of a patrolling Aurora military aircraft, which raised the alarm.

Officials with the rescue co-ordination centre in Halifax said the rescue involved a co-ordinated effort between a military airplane that arrived on the scene and four private vessels that steamed to the area.

A bulk ore carrier provided protection from the waves Monday evening as the fishing vessel Pamiuk drew alongside the life-raft and took the shivering men on board their zodiac. They were later transferred to the Greenland-based vessel Katsheshuk II.

Dearing offered a “big thank you” to all those involved in the challenging rescue mission, adding that it was “the will to get back to our families” that helped them get through the high-seas drama.

When asked if he would head back out to sea, the fisherman from Moreton’s Harbour said, “Definitely. That’s what I’ve always done, that’s all I know how to do.”

The vessel, launched in July 2013, has been featured on television as a state-of-the-art vessel designed to withstand many of the harsh conditions that occur in late fall fishing in the Arctic Ocean. It is equipped for crab, shrimp and turbot fishing, and has a 12-person life-raft that was installed this year.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is looking into the sinking.

The Canadian Press