gainey-laura

Laura Gainey was a strong swimmer and well-loved crew member, say her colleagues. ((Courtesy of Barque Picton Castle))

A Nova Scotia-based tall ship has stopped searchingthe waters of the mid-Atlantic for Canadian Laura Gainey, a sailor swept off the deck by a large wave.

Daniel D. Moreland, captain of the Picton Castle, made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.

"It was our most fierce hope to find Laura alive," Moreland said in a statement.

"The time has now come to end the search and allow our crew to carry on with the voyage southward towards calmer, safer waters.

"They are tired, grief-stricken for their shipmate and heartsick for the Gainey family, as are all of us here in Lunenburg."

The U.S. Coast Guard called offits search for Gainey late Monday afternoon after she would have been in the water for 70 hours.

Gainey wasn't wearing a life jacket or survival gear, and American officials estimated she would have been able to survive 36 hours before hypothermia set in.

The 25-year-old daughter of Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey was swept into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday as the Picton Castle sailed to Grenada.

The Picton Castle crew had continued tosearch the waters about 760 kilometres southeast of Cape Cod, Mass., on Tuesday.

"We're holding out hope for a small miracle like everybody else is," Lynsey Rebbetoy, a crew member who isn't on the ship, toldCBC Newsworld Tuesday morning.

Rebbetoy said the crew had received e-mails and support from around the world urging them to continue the search.

"At some point you have to realize you've gone past the point of reasonable hope," she said.

Rebbetoy said the crew of the Lunenburg-based tall shiphad beenworking with the U.S. Coast Guard, which deployed several small buoys to track the currentsof the Gulf Stream.

Thecrewhad hoped thatGainey might have managed to grab onto one of the many flotation devices tossed overboardafter shewas swept into the ocean.