Not about the big ships, but this is a tragedy for a small town. It reminds you how fleeting life is and how quickly things happen on a small vessel. My sympathies to this man’s family.
YARMOUTH — CAPT. DAVID Allison Trask is a hero.
The 60-year-old fisherman saved his crew of three Wednesday in what can only be described as a harrowing few moments when a foundering boat was abandoned as it listed under the strain of 18,000 kilograms of fish in the hold and an inward rush of sea water.
“He was a great captain. He saved his crew,” said Julie Boudreau, his ex-wife.
The 18-metre fishing dragger Pubnico Explorer rolled over and sank in stormy seas off Yarmouth after it had taken on water.
Three crewmen were plucked from a life-raft by the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Westport shortly before noon Wednesday, but their captain, David Trask, was not with them.
Canadian and American aircraft searched an area totalling more than 685 square kilometres Wednesday and Thursday while the coast guard ship Edward Cornwallis patrolled the area where the fishing boat went down, some 30 kilometres northwest of Yarmouth.
The search ended Thursday at 1 p.m., said Maj. James Simiana, a public affairs officer with Joint Task Force Atlantic.
The missing fisherman was not found.
On Thursday, Ms. Boudreau said her ex-husband and father of their two adult children will never be replaced.
“He did what he had to do as a captain,” she said, recalling descriptions of the harrowing experience that the surviving crewmen gave.
“He got them suited up . . . and got them off the boat.”
She was referring to full immersion survival suits he made his crew put on.
Capt. Trask also pulled on a survival suit, but the boat went down too fast for him to leave, the crewmen all reckoned.
“They had to clamber up . . . the side to get off,” Ms. Boudreau said from her home Thursday.
“They had to pull each other up there to get off. They had to climb up because the boat was listing so bad.”
Capt. Trask told them to jump and they swam about 15 metres to the raft.
They waited for their captain, but he didn’t follow.
“They were young and David wasn’t,” said Ms. Boudreau.
“David was 60 years old and he was probably tired. He’d been up and down (in the hold) working on the pump. He’d been steering manually in the wind with big seas . . . because the power steering had gone and he was tired.”
The Pubnico Explorer had been at sea since Monday and was trying to make it back to its home port of Meteghan.
The boat was taking on water from somewhere and Capt. Trask had been talking to the coast guard, said Ms. Boudreau.
The main pump is said to have failed and a secondary electrical pump that was still working was unable to keep the boat afloat, Maj. Simiana has said.
“David had full confidence that the coast guard would get there with . . . pumps,” Ms. Boudreau said.
“Anyway, he got them off and they expected he was coming, but another wave hit and I think it just took him inside or something,” said Ms. Boudreau.
“It might have just took him right in the wheelhouse. I don’t know.
“The wave was huge.”
It was the third of three big waves in succession.
“The third one filled the hold and she went down,” said Ms. Boudreau.
The boat was badly listing and the last wave sealed its fate.
The men in the life-raft saw the wave coming.
“They were only off the boat one minute and she was down,” said Ms. Boudreau. “She was gone. And Dave was on it.”
In the life-raft, the men waited for what seemed like an eternity, strobe lights on their red immersion suits flashing steadily.
At 11:31 a.m., the Westport spotted the raft and bore down on it.
Four minutes later, the survivors were being pulled aboard the cutter.
The men were returned to shore at 5 p.m. Thursday.
On Wednesday evening, a U.S. Coast Guard jet fitted with forward-looking, infrared, heat-seeking gear arrived and flew the search area, said Maj. Simiana.
After the search was called off Thursday afternoon, Capt. Trask was listed as a missing person by the RCMP.
The Pubnico Explorer is owned by Comeauville Seafood Products Ltd. in Digby County, according to Transport Canada.
Capt. Trask’s two sons, Aaron and John, have been serving prison terms for the past six months for their roles in a 2007 Digby County homicide.
The fact that their father is missing has been hard on them, said their mother.
’They were young and David wasn’t. David was 60 years old and he was probably tired. He’d been up and down (in the hold) working on the pump. He’d been steering manually in the wind with big seas.’ – JULIE BOUDREAU