Search for missing Nova Scotia fishermen to resume after holiday weekend

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The search for the five missing crew members of the Chief William Saulis will continue after the holiday weekend.

The Chief William Saulis, a scallop dragger that was based out of Yarmouth, N.S., was last heard from early on the morning of Dec. 15 when it was heading toward Digby after a week-long fishing expedition.

In a news release Friday, RCMP said the underwater recovery team is unable to search because of poor weather conditions. The team is expected to resume on Monday, weather permitting.

On Thursday, RCMP Air Services searched close to 100 kilometres of coastline from Digby Gut to Harbourville by air. The search did not locate the missing fishermen nor debris from the vessel, the release said.

RCMP will partner with the Canadian Coast Guard to provide a platform to assist in recovery efforts, including sonar exploration.

Brett Ruskin/CBC
Brett Ruskin/CBC

A variety of search efforts have been made, off and on, since the Chief William Saulis sent out its emergency beacon near Delaps Cove shortly before 6 a.m. on Dec. 15. Two life-rafts washed ashore, empty, later that morning.

By nightfall, search-and-rescue crews announced they'd found the body of one crew member, Michael Drake from Newfoundland.

The other five members of the crew — Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes, Eugene Francis and Charles Roberts, the captain of the vessel — have not been found.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the boat sank, although the cause remains unclear. After a 36-hour search and rescue mission by the Maritime Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, RCMP took over the case as a recovery mission and missing persons investigation.