Boat owner describes devastation
The owner of a boat that was ripped apart in Bailey's Bay by Hurricane Nicole has likened the ordeal to “losing a family member”.
The storm not only tore apart Aldo Pace's boat but also his livelihood as a commercial fisherman and with upwards of $300,000 worth of damage, he has no insurance to fall back on.
Mr Pace, 62, got the 42ft Bruno Stillman fishing vessel about 25 years ago, using it for his charter business followed by offshore commercial fishing.
He had wanted to take it out of the water but all the boat yards were full. Mr Pace had already called the insurance companies but they said they don't provide storm cover for boats for Bailey's Bay as it is a high-risk area.
It left him no choice other than to tie down the boat as best he could and hope for the best.
But as fate would have it, during the second half of the storm, the boat broke from its mooring and smashed into the railway trail bridge, breaking it into several pieces.
Mr Pace told The Royal Gazette: “It hurts. I lost everything — about all I can get back is the motor. It hit the bridge — the corner of the pylon that holds the bridge up split the boat right in half. Half of the boat went up on land the other half is on the bay. I am trying to salvage what I can. I got the three batteries up but if they have salt water in them I don't know.
“We wanted to take it out of the water but the boat slips were full. I put extra chains but she still broke. It is my livelihood. I've been a fisherman all my life. It was like losing a family member. We had this boat up to date — everything on the boat was brand new. We even changed the motor.”
Mr Pace's son, Aaron DeSilva, was with his father in their Bailey's Bay home watching the nightmare unfold before their eyes. When it went down they broke into tears.
Mr DeSilva said: “The bridge and the waves just beat it up to pieces. The boat broke loose during the second phase after the eye went over. It went underneath the rocks and got battered right up.
“My family and I have been salvaging what we can — some of the engine parts, the rudder, some of the gear but that is about it. We are trying to pick up the pieces. My father and I are fishermen but he is a full-time fisherman. It is like losing a family member. We have ridden out many hurricanes before but not a category four. We are rock fishermen so it was amazing how the rock fish lines wrapped around the motor and threw it up on the rocks.”
Recalling the moment he saw the boat breaking up, Mr DeSilva added: “I saw the stern up underneath the bridge. I told my father right away and we watched it from the kitchen; watched it get beaten up. We were debating on going out there. We all cried. It was devastating.”
Mr DeSilva said that he suspected some of the items that washed ashore have been taken.
“It's amazing how many people come and try and take stuff off the beach knowing that the boat has been destroyed. There are things I haven't found yet like the EPIRB safety device, a flare gun — that should have been floating. I took the batteries out of the water so it doesn't affect the fish. I had the bow pulled out of the water yesterday by tow truck.
“My father doesn't have a whole lot of money to pick up the pieces. I have been trying to help him as much as I can and friends to get something back and we can think about salvaging the motor, getting it working and selling it.”
The family owns a much smaller boat which they will use to fish inshore until they are able to buy a boat that can take them back offshore.