Family sure N.S. sailor survived 10-metre waves
Man goes missing on course for Bermuda
The family of Canadian sailor Hubert Marcoux, who has been missing for days somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, was confident Friday he survived a series of storms described by some to have winds gusts of more than 110 kilometres an hour and waves measuring 10 metres high.
“I’m not worried at all,” said Marcoux’s sister, Lucy Milroy on Friday.
“I’m very optimistic that he’s in the middle of the ocean and because of the bad weather, he changed his sailing plans and that he’s OK. I’m just waiting to hear the good news.”
Marcoux, 68, left Halifax on his 13-metre sailboat, Mon Pays, on Nov. 9.
The sailor, who has nearly 20 years of experience and has authored a book about his travels, was bound for Bermuda.
Milroy said her brother was planning on spending the winter docked on the island in his boat.
“When hurricane Juan hit this area (in 2003), it damaged his boat. It took him six years to repair it,” she said. “So going to Bermuda was just a way for him to go to warm weather and live on his boat.”
He had notified officials with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC) in Halifax about his trip and had asked them to send a search party if he didn’t arrive on the island by Wednesday.
Lieut. Edward Stansfield with the JRCC said that Marcoux probably did not anticipate sailing through extreme weather conditions and most likely had to spend four days on the helm of his boat to survive the storms.
“He was by himself and he would’ve seen some incredibly rough seas,” said Stansfield. “About four days in the middle of his journey he would’ve seen winds in excess of 60 knots.”
Stansfield described the North Atlantic as being frigid during this season.
“The survivability rate is limited to hours,” he said.
Four military aircraft, including two Hercules planes, an Aurora and a Falcon plane from the Department of National Defence and the U.S. Coast Guard were scouring the now-calm waters closest to Bermuda Friday for any sign of the man’s boat.
Search crews have been attempting to contact the man via radio for the last three days.
“It certainly would have been a harrowing experience sailing in this weather on his own,” he said. “It would’ve been an incredibly daunting situation to be in. I would think he went into this full knowing the risks.”
Marcoux’s sailboat is equipped with a dinghy, a radio, a GPS, and food supplies. It did not have satellite radio.
Another boat leaving Halifax the day before the Mon Pays with a course set for Bermuda recently arrived on the island four days late.
Stansfield said this boat had three sailors, but still provides hope the missing Canadian man is still alive.
“Speaking to the three individuals who were on the other sailing vessel, they described the seas as outrageous. It was bad enough for three to keep afloat. With one (sailor), it’s just unbelievable,” he said. “We figured he made it halfway before getting into the rough weather. It’s still possible he is fine. He could be found.”
Lucy Milroy said her brother has survived many dangerous weather conditions while on his boat. He spent 18 years sailing around the world and completed a solo trip from Australia to Halifax in 2003.
Marcoux also has brother in Montreal and a brother in New Brunswick.
A spokesman with the U.S. Coast Guard said they were in negotiations to take over the search if the sailor was not found by the end of Friday.
Bermuda is located 1,225 kilometres from Halifax.