2019-05-29

Eight people rescued after sailboat runs aground on Cross Island

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>PHOTO COURTESY BILL FLOWER</p><p>The <em>Esprits De Corps IV</em> aground on Cross Island.</p>

None of the eight people aboard a Quebec-owned racing sailboat were hurt when the vessel ran aground May 22 on Cross Island, about 13 kilometres away from Lunenburg.

The Esprit De Corps IV, a 19.5-metre-long pleasure craft, lost its sail over the side and it got snarled in the boat's propeller, a spokesman for the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Halifax said.

A mayday was called at about 3:30 a.m. over a marine radio frequency used ordinarily in distress situations.

The Esprits De Corps was not involved in any racing activity at the time it got into trouble, Marc Ouellette, the Maritime Search and Rescue regional supervisor at JRCC, told LighthouseNOW.

A tugboat in the area was first to arrive to render aid.

"By the time the tug got on scene the sailing vessel had already run aground so they weren't able to get in close enough to get a line on, or recover the eight people on board," Ouellette said.

He said winds blew 46 km/h in two metre seas, calling it "not insignificant weather" conditions.

The tugboat was to deploy a small skiff but the Canadian Coast Guard's Mahone Bay Inshore Rescue Boat arrived at Cross Island with three personnel to bring the stranded eight, stuck on the west side of the island, to the tug. The tug, believed to be the 28-metre-long and Ontario-owned Salvage Monarch, brought them to shore in Lunenburg, arriving at 5:30 a.m.

Ouellette didn't know the genders of the eight crew but believed they were all adults. Six are from Quebec and two are from France. All were reported to be in good health at the time of rescue. The Esprits De Corps IV had started out from Bermuda.

Representation from the Canadian Red Cross, a social services and humanitarian charity, was also asked to attend.

"They were planning on being in Lunenburg for two days," Ouellette said of the rescued individuals. "They were assessed and required no medical attention [and] no additional attention from the Red Cross once they initially assessed them."

Red Cross spokesman Dan Bedell said volunteers from the agency provided some blankets and some personal-care kits.

The items were handed over to the eight via the tugboat crew after they cleared customs. The volunteers couldn't board to meet them directly as they were waiting for Canada Border Services Agency officers and couldn't leave the tugboat, Bedell told LighthouseNOW in an email.

"The eight had already made arrangements to stay in Lunenburg motels once permitted to leave the tug, so our volunteers left at that point as there were no other services we could provide," Bedell said.

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