Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Miracle at sea: Fishermen escape death from rogue wave

Here's a heart-warming story as told by a skipper published in Halifax's Herald News, entitled "Miracle at sea: Fishermen escape death from rogue wave" written by Brian Medel of Yarmouth Bureau:
THE HAND of God delivered two Nova Scotia fishermen from the deep earlier this month, says a Woods Harbour skipper.

 Sandy Stoddard, captain of the Logan & Morgan, spoke Monday about a miracle at sea two weeks ago, when two young men who were tossed overboard after a violent rogue wave slammed into their boat were returned from almost certain death.

 Just 16 days after the entire crew of the Miss Ally was lost, Stoddard went to sea. It was the halibut fisherman’s first trip since that tragedy.

 March 5 was a dark night.

 “We were off Canso … probably 75 miles,” Stoddard said. “We were hauling our gear when it happened. A huge wave came out of nowhere.”

 Winds were gusting 75 to 90 kilometres per hour.

 “In 40-some years … I’ve never seen nothing like that,” 56-year-old Stoddard said with a note of disbelief in his voice.

SEE ALSO: Investigation into sinking of Miss Ally ends

 “It just came out of nowhere and just picked us right up and threw us down. And when it threw us down, it threw two men overboard.”

 The small group of fishermen working aft were in their oil gear work clothes. They had no time to don survival suits.

 Stoddard, the fifth man on board, was in the wheelhouse.

 Wind screeched through cables and deck gear banged together hard as the boat slammed back down into the trough behind the wave.

 The four crew members straining to hold on suddenly became two. The men on deck looked around frantically and screamed to Stoddard at the helm, “They’re gone!”

 How in the world did the crew get their friends back, people have asked.

 “Listen,” said Stoddard, speaking deliberately.

 “I’m telling you right now … it’s only by the grace of God that we got ’em back. That’s the only way.

 “One guy we got back … it’s hard to explain where this guy went. He told me he stood on something and it threw him back aboard the boat.

 “We’re Christian people. It was God’s hand that he stood on, and God flipped him back aboard the boat.

 “He didn’t get wet. He was to his neck in the water and he was still dry when he came back aboard the boat.”

 That man was Gordie Rhyno, Stoddard said.

 When he dropped on deck, he ran to the stern, where the other missing man — Gregory Nickerson — would suddenly surface.

 “He just knew,” Stoddard said. “Gordie was on the stern hollering for Gregory and then Gregory answered him.”

 Nickerson appeared under a 1.6-metre aluminum overhang, a platform supported by braces.

 “He came up underneath there and he was panicking and his hand hit one of the braces and he grabbed the brace,” Stoddard said. “He only called out the once. We (didn’t) hear him no more.”

 The men threw a lifesaver to where Nickerson’s voice was last heard.

 “On the fourth throw … Gordie said, ‘I got him,’” Stoddard said.

 Readings on board showed the water temperature was 2.2 C.

 The men worked on Nickerson because he had swallowed a lot of water.

 “It took us an hour before we got Gregory back,” Stoddard said.

 An emergency call was never made.

 “It happened so fast. It was over and there was nothing to call in.”

 Nickerson said Monday that he is feeling better and will probably head back to sea soon.

 “We was all there joking and laughing, then it was just, bang,” he told CBC News. “Nobody knew nothing. Nobody seen it coming.”

 Some have asked why the outcome with the Miss Ally was so different. Both had crews of five men. Both sought halibut in much the same area of ocean.

 “We cannot and will not and do not have the answers to the things that we … know nothing about,” Stoddard said.

 And while the community grieves for the five lost from the Miss Ally, Stoddard said he’s thankful his men were saved.

 “That makes five men I’ve lost,” said Stoddard, who was a captain at 19.

 He lost three in the 1980s.

 “I got em all back.”

 Stoddard hasn’t been on the ocean since the harrowing incident. But soon, maybe this week, he will head out.

 “We’re facing, for some reason, way more rogue waves today than we ever faced before. I don’t remember ’em being like this.”

 People need to be ready, Stoddard said, because the end may be closer than they realize.
This story was given by Woods Harbour fisherman Capt. Sandy Stoddard when he talked with reporters outside of the Woods Harbour Community Centre in Woods Harbour on Feb. 23, 2013. Thanks to Brian Medel for recording this great story. One just can not quarrel with the skipper about' "The hand of God" behind all these! We just wish to thank the Good Lord Who does allow such a nice story be actually happen and be told. Deo Gratias!

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