We are experiencing extremely high winds at the moment, this is normal for the time of year but makes fishing more dangerous and last week two jangadas (one from here, one from further up the coast) capsized at sea, thankfully all crew members were rescued. I had nearly finished writing my next blog post, which was to be about the situation in regards to sea rescue here, when the story was overtaken by events.
The fishing boat “Compescal V” and six man crew had been fishing for lobster at a distance of approximately 70km (38 nautical miles) from the coast. On the night of the 22nd of October (Tues) they were returning to port (Fortim, a little further down the coast from Prainha) after completing almost a month at sea.
The boat was roughly 14km (7 NM) from the coast, the three men on duty were going about their work, night was falling and Rogaciano Costas had just taken over command, this was their last point of contact by radio. The boat was hit by a sudden violent wind and a huge wave, which turned the boat over, Rogaciano is reported to have said it all happened so quickly, in less than two minutes they were all in the water, he shouted out the names of the crew, only two responded. The three men spent the night clinging to buoys from the upturned boat.
At dawn on the 23rd a jangadeiro, who had set sail from Fortim before first light on a fishing trip, spotted them and went to their rescue. Rogaciano said God had put the jangadeiro there to save them. The survivors believed the other crew members had been trapped inside when the boat went over. Other local boats went out to search for the missing men but a serious lack of resources in the region hampered a more thorough search effort.
The Navy base in Aracati responsible for this area does not have a boat, relying instead on commandeered fishing vessels to carry out search and rescue, it takes time for them to find a boat, the crew and the fuel needed to put to sea and they will not put to sea in the dark, as without powerful search lights, they fear the possibility of hitting any man in the water rather than rescuing him.
Later that morning the upturned boat came past the beach of Prainha, word had already spread that their had been an accident but details were scarce. Jangadas from Prainha set sail in the hope of finding survivors on the boat but hopes were already fading.
On the 24th (Thurs) what was left of the boat washed up on the next beach to Prainha, the other crew members were not in it and the search for them continued, though by now there was very little hope of finding them alive. In the afternoon, word came that the body of one of the crew had been found tangled in fishing gear near Fortim.
Today Friday, Neu’s cousin left to go fishing and spotted the body of one of the other crew members, he returned to the beach to raise the alarm and the body was later collected and returned to shore, where members of the missing mens families were waiting.
The search for the other man will continue until Monday but there is now no hope of finding him alive.
The Compescal V was a relatively new boat, about 2 years old, of a type typically used in lobster fishing in this region and was fully equipped with communication and navigational aids.
The body of the last missing fisherman has been recovered, may they rest in peace.
Francisco Ivan Barros do Nascimento, 45.
Julio da Silva Freitas, 26.
José Milton Moreira da Silva, 61.
Our thoughts are with their families.