‘Wait for a better day,’ warns fisherman after Trinity Bay rescue

One of the three men who spent half an hour bobbing in the ocean after their boat nearly sank has a warning for others.Charlie Drover’s boat nearly sank Monday, sending the three men aboard into the ocean and praying for rescue. (Submitted by Charlie Drover) Three men had a very close call on Monday, surviving half an hour in icy waters after their fishing boat nearly sank while jigging for cod in the Trinity Bay.  Charlie Drover, 61, headed out to fish along with his brother, Bruce Drover and family friend Rod Gosse, leaving from the wharf in Old Shop like they had done many times before.Drover said they were about 800 feet off of Chapel Head when the boat started to take on water and sink.  “I felt she was going to go down, and she was down pretty fast,” Drover told CBC Radio’s The Broadcast.  A northwest wind was blowing, and Drover admits it was not the best day to be on the water. He figures the hatch on the back of his boat, which houses the pump and battery, must have popped open while battling into the wind and rough water on the way to the fishing grounds. “The boys in the back of the boat didn’t see the water come up until it was too late,” he said. One call for help Drover had enough time for one call for help — to his brother-in-law, also in Old Shop, debating on whether or not to make the trip to the fishing grounds.  Fortunately another boat with a three-man crew was getting ready to head out at the same time. Drover’s brother-in-law relayed the distress signal on to them to head out as quickly as possible. I just rolled over on my back and looked up at the sky and prayed to God that he was going to save the three of us.- Charlie Drover Out on the water, Drover’s veteran fisherman instincts kicked in. “We put our life jackets [on], we had just enough time. … I’d say we only had 30 or 40 seconds from the time the boat started to go down to the time she had her nose in the air. Within that 30 seconds I made the call for rescue and got the boys to take their boots off,” Drover said. “By the time they got over there, we were in the water over half an hour.” Drover said he knew the cold water would zap the crew’s energy, and his crew mates couldn’t swim.  A effort to make it to a nearby rock face, exhausted Drover. He could see his brother bobbing just down the shore from him, but had lost sight of Gosse.  It was a terrifying 30 minutes, Drover recalled. “I just lost all my energy. So, I just rolled over on my back and looked up at the sky and prayed to God that he was going to save the three of us,” he said. Charlie Drover said the water was cold, and his two crew mates couldn’t swim. (Submitted by Ralph G. Hiscock) Life-jackets lesson Though terrified, Drover said he began to feel peace while floating and hoping help would be there soon, with praying the only option he had left. Then the sounds of boat engines broke through the waves.  “That was the best sound I’ve ever heard,” Drover said.  One by one each man was found, Drover the hardest to locate on account of his black-and-blue life-jacket. “It’ll never happen again. It was harder to see me. They picked up the boys right away because of their life jackets, they were brighter colours,” he said. It was a fairly quiet ride back to shore, and safety. “We couldn’t say much until after we got to the clinic. We were all in pretty bad shape when we got in. We were too cold,” he said. His boat was recovered and pulled back to shore. For those taking part in the recreational fishery this year, Drover has one piece of advice. “Be that extra careful. If it is a windy day, wait for a better day,” he said. “A meal of fish is not worth it.” Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
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