Three people have been rescued after their fishing boat, the Pierre-Luc 1, began taking on water, and they were forced to abandon it Wednesday evening off Pointe-des-Monts on Quebec’s North Shore.

The incident took place in rough seas about eight kilometres offshore.

The three people ended up in the St. Lawrence River in immersion suits as their boat went down.

Three boats and a Griffon helicopter responded to their distress call, which the Coast Guard received around 7 p.m. ET.

All three people were located and rescued separately. The last person was picked up more than two hours after the distress call went out.

 A risky rescue

One vessel that answered the distress call was the cargo ship BBC Skysails. 

"Half the hull was under the water, then we saw the people. We tried to pick all of them up but it was not possible, it was very difficult, and the weather was not so good," the BBC Skysails' second officer Liutov Zakhar told CBC News.

Zakhar and two crewmates then got in a launch and plucked a 21-year-old sailor from the dark, roiling waters and brought him back to the ship. 

The rescue operation took 70 minutes.

Vadim Surkov, captain of the BBC Skysails, said the rescue was complicated by the rough seas and nightfall. 

"It's very difficult to find someone in the water at night," he said.

His crew used the ship's spotlights to locate the man and direct the rescue launch to him.

Surkov said it was his first rescue operation, and it felt good. 

"We're very happy, it was very emotional," he said. 

Coast Guard spokesman Michel Plamondon said the three were in good condition after their rescue. 

They were taken to a hospital in Baie-Comeau, which is west of Pointe-des-Monts.

Plamondon said there were waves of two to three metres in the area at the time of the incident.

The Pierre-Luc 1's port of registry was Sainte-Anne-des-Monts in the Gaspé region, he said.

Transport Canada investigators are now taking over the investigation to determine what caused the Pierre-Luc 1 to go down.

Map

The accident happened in the St. Lawrence River east of Baie-Comeau. (Google maps)