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Survivor swims to shore, walks two kilometres for help after fishing boat goes down off North Cape, P.E.I.

Two Tignish firefighters stand near the water’s edge at North Cape looking for any sign of the two fishermen missing since their boat sank on Tuesday.
Two Tignish firefighters stand near the water’s edge at North Cape looking for any sign of the two fishermen missing since their boat sank on Tuesday. - Eric McCarthy

Boats, aircraft and searchers on foot continue to comb the water and shoreline near North Cape, P.E.I., searching for two fishermen who have been missing since their boat sank late Tuesday afternoon near the North Cape reef.

The accident was only discovered after the third member of the crew, 22-year-old Tanner Gaudet, swam to shore and then walked an estimated two kilometres to the Wind ‘n Reef Restaurant at North Cape to summon help. 

Missing are Glen DesRoches, the 57-year-old captain of the Kyla Anne, and his longtime helper Maurice (Moe) Getson, 54. The two men had fished together for at least 10 years.

Seated in his truck Wednesday, overlooking the sea where the incident unfolded a day earlier, Jody Gaudet told the Journal Pioneer his son, Tanner, who had braved the wind-tossed waves to swim to safety, had been on the crew for four years.

Wind ‘n Reef hostess Cathy Gallien said Gaudet entered the restaurant soaked and in shock around 5:20 p.m. She subsequently called 9-1-1 and the man’s father.

The video below shows wind and surf conditons at North Cape on Wednesday, Sept. 19 (story continues after video): 

Keeping a vigil at North Cape Wednesday afternoon, Gaudet said his son obviously has a strong heart to have survived the ordeal and to make it safely to shore.

He had used a fish tank cover to help him remain afloat.

Gaudet said he understands the boat, the Kyla Anne, had just crossed over the reef at North Cape, en route to Tignish when a wave filled the vessel with water.

Gaudet estimates his son must have drifted nearly two and a half kilometres before making it to shore. The sinking, he noted, occurred around the point, beyond the restaurant.
Gallien said staff of the restaurant helped the young fishermen out of his drenched clothes and wrapped him in tablecloths which they had warmed up in a dryer.“He was in severe, severe shock. The first thing he said, ‘I need a drink of water to call my Dad.’"

“I honestly think that was the first phone call anybody knew anything,” Gaudet said.

He said he had been calling his son previous to that but was unaware there was anything wrong.

“He said ‘the boat went down,’” Gallien explained, describing the information Tanner Gaudet shared with staff. She said they then learned the names of the missing fishermen. The restaurant subsequently closed for the evening so that it could be used as a staging area for first responders and family of the missing fishermen.

Searchers scour the shoreline at North Cape Wednesday, near the site where the fishing vessel ‘Kyla Anne’ went down late Tuesday afternoon. One crew member swam to safety but two others remain missing.
Searchers scour the shoreline at North Cape Wednesday, near the site where the fishing vessel ‘Kyla Anne’ went down late Tuesday afternoon. One crew member swam to safety but two others remain missing.

After being examined by paramedics, the young fisherman remained at the restaurant until after midnight. He was back Wednesday morning, Gallien noted.

“He’s worked up and sore; he doesn’t want to leave here,” the senior Gaudet said of his son.

Commenting on the numerous boats that were on the water searching Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, Gaudet said that’s what fishermen do.

“When there’s trouble, they come together and they go looking.”

Members of P.E.I. Ground Search and Rescue arrived throughout the day Wednesday to join in the search efforts.

Moe Getson’s brother, Gordie, commended all the searchers for their efforts.

“They’re doing a fantastic job, above and beyond what anybody could ask,” he said.

He added family members have been in touch with Joint Search and Rescue and have been assured they will be kept updated of the search efforts. He said he learned a specialized aircraft was being dispatched to the scene to join in the search.

The Journal Pioneer has extensive coverage of this story:

West Prince comes together as search continues for missing fishermen

Search team continues to grow at North Cape

Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre helps with search for missing P.E.I. fishermen

eric.mccarthy@journalpioneer.com

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