Another extra-tropical cyclone followed a week after Nemo. While Nemo didn't cause any deaths, this storm caused a tragedy. Miss Ally, a 45ft Cape Islander with 5 young men on board, out of Wood's Harbour, a few miles from my home, was in the vicinity of Sable Island fishing for halibut. On the night of the 17th, winds became well over 80knots from the northwest. Attempting to reach port on the mainland, the vessel was overwhelmed and all were lost. The EPIRB went off but there was no mayday. The overturned hull was seen by aircraft the next day, There was confusion by the official authorities over the rescue effort, the SAR chiefs thinking there would be no survivors.As the hull remained afloat, with a possibility of trapped bodies, a team of volunteers from the community took a another small boat with a volunteer team of divers to the site, 80 miles offshore. They reached the hull at 16h on the 22nd, sent divers to examine the vessel but there was major damage, the wheelhouse, cabin, and everything in the boat gone. No bodies were found. The navy's dive team reached the site the next day and confirmed there were no bodies. The barometric pressure at the height of this storm was 957mB, the lowest I have ever seen.
Secondary depressions that form or intensify in the Gulf of Maine and travel NE over the outer banks of Nova Scotia are common. In the summer, Sable Island is in hurricane alley. There is no weather radar coverage anywhere off southwestern Nova Scotia, and our forecasters are often caught out by this, as they were in this case. www.passageweather.com and www.magicseaweed.com provide much better information and they forecasted this storm ( as strong as the top end of a category 2 hurricane) accurately. Only problem is that you need internet access and unless you have this by satellite, you are very lucky to have a signal more than 20 miles offshore. For this reason, I keep a weatherfax on board ( mine is a Sitex digital one that uses miniscule electricity) and I have a Weems and Plath digital barograph, cost less than $100, and which has a little flashing icon that comes on if it's going to blow,and is almost never wrong.
This isn't the first tragedy we've had and it won't be the last. Commercial fishing in the winter is an inherently dangerous activity. When you tie up in one of these harbours, perhaps spare a thought for the guys that are at this all year round