Barge capsizes in North Channel

Rainbow trout harvest ‘swims with the fishes,’ crew escapes unscathed

LITTLE CURRENT—As far as boating accidents go, it was just about the best kind—nobody got hurt.

Cole-Munro principle Geoff Cole confirmed that one of his company’s 30-foot small working barges capsized in heavy waves late last week. “It is basically unsinkable,” Mr. Cole said of the vessel. “Nobody was hurt.”

Mr. Cole agreed that it was probably not the best decision to attempt to move product (market-sized trout in totes packed with ice) from the aquaculture cages at Wabuno to processing facilities on-shore during conditions of strong wind, but that the lesson learned by his crews will serve them in good stead going forward. “People may get away with travelling in that kind of weather nine times out of 10,” he said. “But when something like this happens and nobody is injured, well, it may not have been a good thing to have happened, or the best decision, but you learn from it.”

The accident may have passed injury-free, but it was a bit of a near thing for the three-man crew, noted lead hand Jason Hughson, and not something anyone is anxious to ever repeat.

“I wasn’t onboard,” said Mr. Hughson. “But as I understand it, water came over the bow and the added weight of the water pushed the bow under the water.” The vessel rolled over, ending up upside down and tossing one crew member overboard immediately. Another crew member abandoned the vessel after it had capsized, while a third found himself trapped within the wheelhouse.

“Thankfully everyone was wearing their lifejackets,” said Mr. Hughson. “George (one of the crew members on board) was trapped in the wheelhouse. He basically took a gulp of air and swam out.”

Mr. Hughson noted that although no one was seriously injured in the incident, the crew is a “little shook up. They are all in good spirits and keeping their sense of humour. I imagine their better halves are not seeing it quite the same way.”

Within minutes of the barge capsizing, the Ministry of Natural Resources’ MV Huron Explorer was on the scene to rescue the crew members. “They must have been about 200 yards away from the barge when it flipped,” said Mr. Hughson. “So the guys only spent about two minutes in the water.”

Sadly, there will be no great fishing opportunities to be had as a silver lining to this incident as the trout being transported in the ice-packed totes were not alive .

Michael Erskine