‘Hoping everyone stays safe’: Nova Scotia fishermen scramble to secure boats as Fiona approaches


PETIT-DE-GRAT, NS – In the small Acadian community of Petit-de-Grat, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, fishermen were busy putting their boats in dry dock or trying to tie them securely to the wharf at the approaching Hurricane Fiona on Friday.

At the Samsons Enterprises shipyard, Jordan David was helping his friend Kyle Boudreau moor Boudreau’s ‘Bad Influence’ lobster boat in hopes it wouldn’t be tossed and shattered by winds that are expected to reach up to 145 km/h .

“We try to make the boats as safe as possible. We try to help each other,” David said as the rain poured down and they secured the boat to the iron jacks supporting it.

“All we can do is hope for the best and prepare as best we can. There is something coming, and how much is yet to be determined,” added David, 29, dressed in his outdoor waterproof gear.

Cape Breton in northeastern Nova Scotia is expected to be at or near the center of the storm when it makes landfall Saturday morning.

Boudreau said damage from major storms is difficult for a coastal community to absorb because wind-blown boats are key to their way of life.

“It’s our livelihood. Our boats are breaking, our traps are breaking… those are things you don’t need to start your season next year,” said Boudreau, 33.

Aidan Sampson, 25, said he had been working 11-hour days in his father-in-law’s shipyard for a week, lifting fishing boats out of the water.

“If left in the water and up against the dock, they can be pounded by the waves for hours with the possibility of sinking it,” Sampson said.

About 500 meters away, Rodney Fougère and his son Roger Fougère were mooring their family cruise ship in the port of Petit-de-Grat with all the rope they could find, using thick plastic buoys to help cushion the boat when the waves arrive.

Arichat resident Rodney Fougere, 63, said he remembered a storm in 1974 that destroyed mobile homes.

“I’m mooring my boat as best I can so it’s still there after the storm… They say this one’s up there in terms of the wind,” he said .

“I hope everyone stays safe. Objects and things can be replaced, but my biggest concern is for people,” said Fougere, who has fished for much of his life.

“It can be very dangerous…I hope if you come back tomorrow you will see the same thing as today – boats above the waterline.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 23, 2022.

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