Lucky to be alive
Two Trinity Bay men escape burning boat
Eric Pretty Jr., of Dildo, won’t soon forget the events of Sept. 6.
In the late afternoon, Pretty and his friend Peter Reid, of New Harbour, were aboard the 48-foot pleasure craft, Labrador Freedom, just off Tickle Harbour Point, near Bellevue, when disaster struck.
The two were in the flybridge when they realized something was wrong. Usually designed for leisure boats and yachts, a flybridge allows a navigator to see all sides of the ocean while navigating the boat.
“We were sitting on the roof, just cruising along and I smelled smoke,” Pretty said.
He lifted up the hatch cover to the engine room and knew immediately trouble was brewing.
“The flames shot right up and she was starting to fill up with smoke by then,” he said.
Pretty, who always brings a cellphone with him, called the Coast Guard and immediately jumped aboard a smaller fiberglass boat, which was being towed by a larger vessel. “We abandoned ship right away,” he said. Mike Bonin, a public affairs officer with the Department of National Defence in Halifax, told CBC that both men were not in the boat long before they were picked up.
Both the Coast Guard and numerous vessels in Trinity Bay responded to the accident.
While in the lifeboat, Pretty watched helplessly as his boat was consumed by fire and later sank into the cold Trinity Bay waters. He had only purchased the Labrador Freedom the previous year. “I couldn’t do anything about it,” he said. Lucky to be alive When he reached shore, the realization set in that Pretty had lost his vessel, making it a rough night.
However, the positive he took from the horrendous event was that he and Reid managed to get off the boat safely.
“One good thing is that no one lost their life. We’re very lucky,” he said. Sage advice Pretty had advice for anyone who goes out on the water for pleasure cruises and the like.
“Make sure you have a life raft or a speed boat towing behind the boat,” he said.
Pretty is confident that having the boat saved the lives of he and Reid.
“If we had’ve went into the water, I don’t think we would be here today,” he said.
Coast Guard officials are still assessing the area, ensuring the boat is not a hazard to shipping lanes and the incident is under investigation.