A Gander search and rescue team operated within a narrow timeframe late Saturday night to rescue three turr hunters stuck for several hours in slob ice in an open boat off Indian Bay.
Winds in the area on Saturday were 50-60 km/h, waves up to 10 metres high, and heavy snow resulted in poor visibility at the time of the rescue, with conditions steadily getting worse.
The Cormorant helicopter was deployed from Gander at 10:39 p.m. and arrived in the vicinity of the boaters by 11:55 p.m. About 40 minutes later the three boaters had been hoisted to safety and were flown to James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander for assessment. All three of the men were conscious when rescued.
RCMP in New Wes Valley were notified about 6 p.m. Saturday three boaters from Indian Bay and Centerville — two brothers and brother-in-law — were stuck in slob ice just off of Indian Bay, and unable to get back to land.
The men had left Saturday morning to go bird hunting and towed their 16-foot open boat across the ice, about one kilometre out through the bay, with their ATVs. At the end of the ice, they launched the boat into the water.
About 3:30 p.m., the men tried to return to the edge of the ice, however, the winds had blown in thinner ice that could not support the weight of the boat and was also too thick for the boat to move through.
A group of local people went out to the site on their snowmobiles to help, but attempts to get the men to land were unsuccessful due to the compressed ice pans, and slushy water that separated them from the boat.
Attempts were also made to locate a boat that could be used to reach the men but, due to the impending storm, all vessels had been taken out of the water. Further attempts to reach the boaters over the ice were also unsuccessful.
Search and rescue was alerted and called in.
The RCMP says the Gander SAR techs did a great job under adverse conditions to rescue the men and prevent what was developing into a tragedy.