Video captures dramatic rescue mission off Magdalen Islands
'At mercy of the wind and waves,' captain says after fishermen hauled from inflatable raft
An Armed Forces video shows the recent harrowing rescue of two people from a fishing boat taking on water in rough waters west of the Magdalen Islands.
At first, the video posted by Joint Task Force Atlantic shows the two people aboard fishing boat La Merveille as waves pound the sides and appear to almost knock it over.
"It was at the mercy of the wind and waves," said Capt. Rob Nicholson, the aircraft commander aboard the rescue helicopter that night.
"Time was of the essence."
Cutting to an inflatable raft, the camera captures the pair jumping from the fishing boat, trying to land without falling into the water.
A crew member from Joint Task Force Atlantic is then lowered from a helicopter and grabs the two fishermen before they're all pulled up to safety individually.
Not the typical method for rescues
Nicholson said search and rescue crews normally wouldn't use a raft, but this situation called for it.
He said large rigging lines on La Merveille would have made extracting the two stranded passengers from the boat directly too dangerous.
"Because it was rocking back and forth, from left to right — probably 80 (to) 90 degrees at a time as it came up one wave and down another — these lines were flying through the air."
"If we were trying to lower someone down from the hoist from above, these lines would be cutting back and forth through the path," he said. "The bonus of the life raft in that situation was, once they got in it, it was able to drift a little away from the boat."
A distress call from La Merveille, which suffered a mechanical failure, went out Friday night from about 70 nautical miles west of the Magdalen Islands, toward the New Brunswick coast.
Rough weather delayed the rescue until Saturday morning, according to Joint Task Force Atlantic, which is responsible for search and rescue operations in the region.
'Very, very happy to be out of there'
While the captain said that Saturday's rescue was one of the worst he's assisted on in terms of weather, he also said that on the job, he isn't thinking about himself.
"Really, we're thinking about the two people on that vessel," Nicholson said. "We were relatively safe."
Safely on board the aircraft, the rescued pair were "very, very happy to be out of there," Nicholson said.
"It could have deteriorated very quickly," he said. "They understood the danger they were in, I think."
"I can't believe they weren't more seasick then they were."
In total, Nicholson and his crew flew for 11 hours during the mission.
The two people were airlifted to Charlottetown and are OK, a public affairs officer said earlier.
The video was posted to the Twitter account for the Joint Task Force Atlantic on Wednesday.
With files from Anjuli Patil