‘First mate’ gets early Christmas present
It was a doggone nice ending to a shipwreck tale.
Steve Smith of Coxheath recently helped out sailor Andy Bunn, whose sailboat ran aground on the shores of Gabarus in October, sending him back in the United States and appealing to Cape Bretoners for help in recovering some of his personal items from the vessel.
Smith not only recovered items from the sailboat and mailed them to Bunn but added an extra —a toy for Bunn’s bull mastiff-boxer mix, Atticus, the ship’s “first mate.”
A few days ago, Smith received a text of thanks from Bunn.
“Out of the blue we also got a photo of his dog with the chew toy we had thrown in there,” he said.
“Clearly, they both lost everything. We wanted to make sure the dog got mail too.”
Smith said it was a nice feeling to get the photo in which the dog was actually holding the toy his mouth.
“I was very happy that Andy got the box and his things as they meant a lot to him.”
Smith, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, had been following Bunn’s story since the sailor’s 11-metre sailboat Liberty ran aground along the rocky shoreline during a storm on Oct. 24.
Am storm in September had left Bunn’s boat drifting in the Cabot Strait, from where it was later towed to Sydney by the Canadian Coast Guard.
After the Oct. 24 grounding in Gabarus, local residents reported seeing a mysterious sailor and his dog leaving the small fishing village on foot.
Smith — along with wife, Heather, and his own dog, Mira —salvaged what they could from the tangled mess of waterlogged items on the abandoned vessel. After connecting with Bunn, Smith went back a second time looking for specific items the sailor hoped to get back as well.
Bunn was also looking for some electronic components including his GPS, laptop and the ship’s bell.
However, Smith said, those items were already missing from the boat when he got there and he feels some might have been pilfered.
“However, unfortunately, if they were still on board they’d be of no use anyway because everything is wet inside the boat, as least when we were there.”
The coast guard had also visited
the site and removed some content, such as fuel, oil and batteries that could cause environmental damage.
Smith even recovered Bunn’s wedding ring.
“It was buried and no one would have rooted through the rubble to find it.”
The package was mailed to Virginia where Bunn has been awaiting word on whether he’ll ever be able to return to Canada to salvage anything from Liberty. Canada Border Services Agency officials told him he might not be allowed back into the country for 10 years because his record includes a charge for carrying a concealed weapon and a disorderly conduct ticket.
Smith does plan to keep in touch with the sailor.
“I didn’t ask him too many questions — like if he was getting a new boat or if the insurance covered it — I didn’t want to get into that. It was his home and I don’t know how personal that is to him.
“Definitely, I’d keep in touch with him to see how he is doing and what’s going on.”
A bull mastiff-boxer mix named Atticus and owned by American sailor Andy Bunn, who recently shipwrecked in Gabarus, hangs on tightly to a toy mailed to Virginia by Steve Smith of Coxheath.