Families in Woods Harbour, N.S., are preparing funerals and memorial services for the five fishermen lost at sea after their fishing boat capsized on Feb. 17 in rough weather.
Police ended the search of the Miss Ally on Sunday afternoon after both navy pictures and private divers determined there were no bodies in the boat's overturned hull. The wheelhouse and the sleeping areas of the fishing boat were gone.
George Hopkins, whose son Joel is one of the five missing men, said he and other parents will always be grateful to the divers from the community who checked the hull.
"If we hadn't sent our divers and these men from here hadn't had left, we don't feel that the Coast Guard or the Navy would have ever left," he said. "We wouldn't have even had a plane.
The families had been haunted by thoughts of the missing men, he suggested.
"When I'd wake up in the mornings would be my worst times. I'd be laying in bed thinking 'These boys are down there.' Thinking they were down there in a pocket of air, had all these hopes. Realistically, we knew in our minds it wasn't so, but it was hard to go from my mind to my heart.
"Now we know."
The tragic loss dominated church services in the southwestern Nova Scotia community.
'They probably went all together, you know what I mean. Better than them laying in that boat slowly dying.'— Ken Hatfield
"I had a nephew aboard that boat, Billy Jack, he was just like one of my own sons. I have been crying ever since it happened, but there's nothing I can do about it I loved him, and he loved me too," said Ken Hatfield.
"They probably went all together, you know what I mean. Better than them laying in that boat slowly dying."
Friends and religious leaders are urging people to offer support to the families of the five young men — Katlin Nickerson, Billy Jack Hatfield, Joel Hopkins, Steven Cole Nickerson and Tyson Townsend — who died.
"In the stained glass window the light is constantly on because the fisherman have requested us to keep it on," said Pastor Phil Williams at the Calvary United Baptist Church in Woods Harbour.
Williams told his congregation to continue supporting one another.
In Williams' church, five candles were lit for the missing men.
Most of the men had young families.