Wilfred and Wanda Parsons are used to people dropping in for tea or coffee. However Saturday was the first time the Rose Blanche residents had those people literally drop from the sky.
A Cormorant Search and Rescue helicopter landed in their backyard around 3:30 Saturday afternoon, and a technician knocked on their door, asking if they could keep a dozen men out of the cold for a little while.
The Search and Rescue technicians decided to take the twenty-three crew members off the John I in two shifts before transporting them all to the Coast Guard station in Burgeo.
The Parsons had the pleasure of hosting the first half to be rescued for about 45 minutes.
“The guy asked if they could come in for a little bit while they went back for the other crew,” said Wilfred.
Wanda said the men were mostly quiet and only one spoke broken English. He seemed to suggest they were from Syria. The ship had been bound for Montreal when they ran into trouble.
The men told Wanda they had been afraid since the previous night, and when they evacuated the ship there was water in the engine room. The ship had been drifting dangerously close to shoals just outside Rose Blanche, and it now seems to be aground.
While Wanda served the men tea, coffee and pop, her neighbor Bernice Hatcher stopped in to offer some fresh cinnamon rolls.
One of the men asked Hatcher for the recipe.
Before long the helicopter landed again in the Parsons’ backyard, and the guests climbed back aboard, with dozens of citizens watching the excitement from the sidelines.
People in the community are concerned about what will happen with the ship. It is now aground just a kilometer or less from the community’s iconic granite lighthouse, which was built in the 1870s to warn mariners about the dangerous shoals off the coast.
A Cormorant from 103 Squadron in Gander rescued 23 crew members from the John I, which is anchored but without power off Rose Blanche.
About half the crew was brought ashore and invited into a local home for tea, coffee and sweets while the other half of the crew was retrieved from the ship.
The Cormorant helicopter then left with the entire crew. Locals were not sure exactly where the helicopter was headed.
One crew member said the sailors were from Syria. They were on their way to Montreal from Africa.
The ship is just meters from a large shoal, according to residents, and they are concerned about what an impending storm could do to the vessel.
Local resident Mary Hardy posted this photo on her facebook page. She and her husband have been listening to the crew speaking with the coast guard via VHF radio.
Hardy said the ship had to drop anchor, and is dangerously close to shoals.
A coast guard ship, The Earl Grey, is also nearby.
Check back for updates as they become available...