Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 05, 2017 - 6:29 am

RCAF Cormorant finds missing Nunavut boaters early Sept. 5

"We found them. They're safe, they're back in town. I do know they're okay."

JANE GEORGE
An RCAF Hercules aircraft, right, and a Cormorant helicopter, left, which were involved in a search effort for missing boaters south of Iqaluit in Frobisher Bay, sit on the tarmac at the Iqaluit International Airport during the late afternoon of Sept. 4. The crew of the Cormorant found the overdue boaters at about 3:30 a.m., Sept. 5. (PHOTO BY KENNETH BELL)
An RCAF Hercules aircraft, right, and a Cormorant helicopter, left, which were involved in a search effort for missing boaters south of Iqaluit in Frobisher Bay, sit on the tarmac at the Iqaluit International Airport during the late afternoon of Sept. 4. The crew of the Cormorant found the overdue boaters at about 3:30 a.m., Sept. 5. (PHOTO BY KENNETH BELL)
A change in mission saw the CCG icebreaker Amundsen, due Sept. 5 in the Nunavik community of Akulivik to conduct the Inuit health survey there, head instead to Frobisher Bay to help in the search for two missing Iqaluit boaters. The Amundsen, equipped with a helicopter and other smaller boats, was, at about 6 a.m. Sept. 5,  approaching southern Baffin Island and Frobisher Bay. (FILE PHOTO)
A change in mission saw the CCG icebreaker Amundsen, due Sept. 5 in the Nunavik community of Akulivik to conduct the Inuit health survey there, head instead to Frobisher Bay to help in the search for two missing Iqaluit boaters. The Amundsen, equipped with a helicopter and other smaller boats, was, at about 6 a.m. Sept. 5, approaching southern Baffin Island and Frobisher Bay. (FILE PHOTO)

(Updated, Sept. 5, 6:30 a.m.)

Two boaters, CBC employee Michael Salomonie and his teenaged son Ian, were picked up at about 3:30 a.m. Sept. 5, ending a wide-scale search that started Sept. 3 in Frobisher Bay.

The two overdue boaters, travelling in a freighter canoe, had gone out fishing Sept. 3, but failed to return on time.

The crew of an RCAF Cormorant helicopter brought in for the search effort found the boaters, spokesperson Lt. Matthew Howse told Nunatsiaq News early Sept. 5, describing the good news as “awesome.”

The helicopter picked the two up about 26 nautical miles south of Iqaluit.

Major Mark Norris, the officer in charge of the SAR operation, told Nunatsiaq News from Halifax that the boaters had gone further than they planned to when they set out fishing Sept. 3. The two went to shore and waited for the weather to clear.

On Sept. 4, they finally headed towards Iqaluit, but ran out of gas. So they managed to paddle to shore and set up an SOS, seen early Sept. 5 by searchers on board the Cormorant, which had set out at about midnight to look for them, Norris said.

“They did a great job to make sure that they were ok and they were safe and that we could find them,” Norris said. “The good news is that we found them. They’re safe, they’re back in town. I do know they’re ok.”

The Joint Task Force Atlantic is “pleased with the successful outcome of this mission,” he said, thanking all the partners and volunteers who assisted.

Norris added how important it is for this heading out fishing and hunting to bring along a VHF/marine radio, personal locator beacon, satellite phone, “or other means of identifying one’s location in an emergency.”

A search that got underway early Sept. 3 continued through the night of Sept. 4 into Sept. 5.

An RCAF Hercules aircraft and a Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel first started looking for the missing boaters in Frobisher Bay Sept. 3, in an area about 12 kilometres south of Iqaluit, Howse told Nunatsiaq News.

A Cormorant helicopter and the CCGS Amundsen—en route to Frobisher Bay from Puvirnituq in Nunavik, where it had been slated to continue the region’s Qanuilirpitaa Inuit health survey—was then been brought into the search.

The search was expanded early Sept. 4, with local and military searchers partnering to find the pair.

As well, about 20 local vessels planned to assist in the search, starting early Sept. 5, Howse said late Sept. 4.

Additional Hercules crew members had already being brought in to “maximize the Herc’s up-time,” he said.

The search was started early Sept. 3, Howse said, when the two boaters, who had set out Sept. 2 to go fishing, failed to return on time.

On Sept. 3 Environment Canada had forecast periods of rain or drizzle and fog at times through Monday and a temperature near 4 C, but during the night winds gusted up to 40 km/h.

Seas crested at up to five metres during the night of Sept. 3 into Sept 4, which hindered search efforts on the water and caused some vessels to return to shore, Howse said.

On Labour Day, Environment Canada was reporting light rain, winds of 19 km/h, visibility of five km and a temperature of 3 C. 

“The weather looks to be improving, with the ceiling of cloud cover lifting significantly,” Howse said late Sept. 4 about the conditions for the search efforts for father and son.

Now that the search has concluded the aircraft involved in the operation will leave Iqaluit—and the CCGS Amundsen will return to Nunavik.

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