Tug crew stranded in Halifax to head home Monday
Eight sailors from Central America stranded since Dec. 18
Eight sailors who have been stranded in Halifax for a month will be flying to Central America on Monday, according to the not-for-profit group trying to get them home.
"Thanks go to all who have helped to make this happen through Aeroplan points and monetary donations," Helen Glenn, manager of the not-for-profit Mission to Seafarers, said in a statement.
"We are very pleased and most grateful."
The crew members of the Craig Trans, a Bolivian-flagged tugboat, said they were on their way to Montreal when a winter storm forced them to find shelter in Halifax on Dec. 18.
After a routine check by Transport Canada, the tug was impounded in Halifax Harbour for numerous safety violations including issues with navigation equipment and faulty escape hatches.
According to the crew, the owner of the tugboat — Gerard Antoine of Vesta Shipping Lines — has neither done the repairs to release the ship nor paid them.
The crew members — seven men from Honduras and one man from El Salvador — have been living in squalor on the boat since being stranded. There are dead cockroaches on the floor, in the drawers and in the cooking area, and live cockroaches can be seen darting around the ship.
Glenn's charity stepped in and began accepting donations to send the men home and went to the media with their story.
After hearing the sailors' story, people from across the country opened up their wallets and donated thousands of Aeroplan miles. Among them, a professor from Montreal donated several thousand dollars and a man from Alberta gave up his own vacation and gave his Aeroplan points to the crew.
Meanwhile, Antoine told the CBC's As it Happens that he wants the crew to clean and fix the vessel that has been impounded by Transport Canada.
He also promised to pay them for the month of December, but he would not say when that would happen.