Rescue at Peggys Cove a cautionary tale for tourists
Peggys Cove Boat Tours rescued a 26-year-old man from the water last July
A "Welcome Aboard" mat with a compass rose greets visitors as they climb onto the Seadog IV tour boat in Peggys Cove, seeking out stories of the sea.
They'll also hear a story of survival.
Peggys Cove Boat Tours helped pull a 26-year-old Ontario man from the choppy waters and onto the boat after he fell in last July.
Now the company shares this story as a warning.
"We just explain to the people about the black rocks and tell them a little bit about the rescue and open their eyes up," Peter Richardson said to CBC's Information Morning.
Richardson has included the tale in his tour this year and last.
He said right after the rescue happened people were still out on the black rocks, where waves can sweep — and have swept — people out to sea.
Richardson spotted a dad with a toddler in diapers dipping the kid's feet in the water just days after the rescue
It was a calm day, but Richardson still slowed his boat down.
"We were honking the horn at him," he said. "And he just kept, like there was nothing, no biggie."
Susan Borders from Rockport, Texas, said she didn't know about the dangers of Peggys Cove until she went out on Richardson's boat.
"You know, you look at the rocks and they don't look that slippery," she said.
Susan said she'd be careful when she went back to shore for lunch.
'Safety-wise … it was big'
Richardson has been in the tour boat business since 1999. He started out in Lunenburg, but he's been at Peggys Cove for the last eight years.
He had practiced this type of rescue, but the 2015 incident was his first real one.
"I don't want to have to do that again," he said.
The rescue changed Richardson and his crew, making them more cautious when moving in, out and around the boat.
"Safety-wise … it was big," he said.
'A wave came over him'
The waters were rough on July 2, 2016, so Richardson hadn't taken his boat out. But he started the engine when he heard someone fell in. And then he heard the mayday call.
"When we got out there we saw something floated, it looked like a piece of plastic lying in the water but actually had a head sticking out of it," he said. "He had a nylon jacket on, I guess, and when we got out there I checked the wave situation."
At first, Richardson didn't think he could get to the man, who was on his back.
"When I first got up beside him, a wave came over him … and he went down about a foot under the water," he said. "I didn't think I was going to see him again."
The wave passed and the man was able to get his foot on the bottom of the boat's ladder and pulled himself up enough for the crew to grab him and get him on board.
Safe on shore
Last April, an Ontario man, Jamie Quattrocchi, died in a similar incident. His mother said he was on a dry pink rock and a wave came out of nowhere.
The provincial government launched the Safe on Shore campaign in May, which is focused on the dangers of coastal areas.
There's more signage now at Peggys Cove, and Ambassatours, the Sou'Wester restaurant and RCMP are giving out cards warning of the dangers.
There's also a social media campaign.
Richardson said he thinks the government did a good job with this campaign and there's not much else they can do.
"The signs, are they working?" he questioned. "Some people are down there [on the black rocks]."
Richardson hopes the people who step off of his boat will be careful around the rocks.
With files from Craig Paisley