Search for missing Canadian sailor called off

The search for Canadian Laura Gainey, who has been missing since a wave swept her off a tall ship Friday, was called off Monday evening.

The search for Canadian Laura Gainey, who has been missing since a wave swept her off a tall ship Friday,wascalled off Monday evening.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced at a press conference in Portsmouth, Va.,the search would end as of 6 p.m. ET.

"They did find a few apparels, but they figure after 70 hours in the water … they won't find her alive," said Catherine Kovacs, a CBC reporter in Portsmouth.

The 25-year-old daughter of Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey was aboard the tall ship Picton Castle en route to Grenada when a rogue wave swept her into theAtlantic Oceanabout 760 kilometres southeast of Cape Cod, Mass.

Kovacs saidGainey's familyhad been contacted, but she did not know where they were awaiting news.

An 'eager sailor'

A former shipmate of Gainey describes her as "an extremely enthusiastic and eager sailor."

"She was always cheerful and upbeat, and a competent sailor," Kimberly Helms, who met Gainey in March 2006, told CBC Newsworld. "It was a joy to be her shipmate."

Helms said she always felt safe aboard the Picton Castle.

"I have never ever been concerned for my own safety or that of my shipmates. I would say everybody on board knows what their job is during an emergency procedure," Helms said. "I don't think it was an issue of safety, I think it was a terrible accident."

Searched all weekend

A U.S. Coast Guard C-130 Hercules airplane and two ships searched overnight for Gainey, said Lieut. Martin Nosset of the U.S. Coast Guard.

A Canadian C-130 Hercules, which shared search duties with the American aircraft, rejoined the search from Halifax early Monday.

As well, the Picton Castle and two merchant vessels were searching the area.

Gainey wasn't wearing a survival suit or life jacket when she was swept overboard, but she was wearing extra clothing and some foul weather gear.

The U.S. Coast Guard estimated Gainey would be able to survive about 36 hours in the water before hypothermia set in, based on her age, her physical fitness and the water temperature.

'Unsure' why Gainey was on deck

Picton Castle Senior Captain Dan Moreland, who wasn't on the ship when Gainey was swept overboard, was in constant contact with the ship throughout the search.

He said the crew isn't sure why Gainey, "a wonderful shipmate and well-loved crew member," was up on deck at the time because she wasn't on watch duty.

Moreland says it isn't unusual that she wasn't tied to the ship.

"It's quite different than a small yacht where you wouldn't step on deck without being hooked in. It's a large vessel with very high rails that almost never gets water on deck."

Moreland said the wave was likely the result of several waves combining into a single wave as wind conditions shifted.

"The whole deck filled up with water with this toppling wave," he said.

He said Gainey likely wouldn't have seen the wave coming because that area of the ship was covered.