Technology saves trio stranded in Atlantic

A woman from Postville is crediting a piece of technology for bringing her family home alive after they were stranded at sea.
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A woman from Postville is crediting a piece of technology for bringing her family home alive.

Cora Edmunds' husband, son and nephew were stranded at sea near Makkovik just before dark on Friday, when the motor on their boat broke down.

With strong winds driving the craft away further out, rowing to shore was not an option.

But a situation that could have ended tragically had a positive outcome instead, thanks to a satellite tracking device called a "SPOT." The device traces users' coordinates and relays them by computer, enabling people elsewhere to log on and see where they are.

The men pressed the SOS button on the device, alerting Cora Edmunds, as well as the agency that handles the calls.

Edmunds immediately phoned the RCMP.

"I gave them my ID number and password off the SPOT," she said. "They went in and got the coordinates. I'd say within 10 or 15 minutes, they were on their way for them."

The SPOT allowed authorities to pinpoint the boat's location.

But not knowing the specifics of what was happening was especially harrowing, said Edmunds.

"We didn't know if they were sick or if the boat capsized, or if they were okay or what," she said.

Within a half hour, the coast guard told Edmunds they located the boat, and that all three passengers were still onboard.

"I said after that, 'Okay, now can I have my cry?'" recounted Edmunds, with an exasperated chuckle. She said until that moment, she had maintained her composure.

"It was a big relief," she said. "It took me two days to get over it."

The trio had been out cod fishing, but Edmunds believed they had been hunting for geese. She explained that in the days before GPS tracking, the misunderstanding might have made the difference between life and death.

Edmunds said she probably would have waited until several hours after dark before alerting authorities because that's when people generally return from goose hunting.

According to Edmunds, rescue personnel would have likely been sent to look for the boaters in the wrong location since people often go goose hunting on nearby islands while cod fishermen operate on the water.

Edmunds said the SPOT is invaluable where she lives, since cellular and satellite phones aren't completely reliable in that remote area.

"It was a good investment," she said. "It took a lot of worry off me in the last year."