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‘Hoping everybody stays safe’: N.S. fishermen scramble to secure boats as Fiona nears

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PETIT-DE-GRAT, NS – In the small Acadian community of Petit-de-Grat on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, fishermen were busy mooring their dry boats or trying to pummel them tightly to the pier as Hurricane Fiona approached Friday.

At the Samsons Enterprises shipyard, Jordan David was helping his friend Kyle Boudreaux anchor the “Bad Influence” Boudreau boat in the hope it wouldn’t be lifted by winds that are expected to reach speeds of up to 145 km/h.

“We try to make the boats as safe as possible. We try to help each other,” David said as the rain poured down and they hit the boat with iron cranes supporting it.

“All we can do is hope for the best and prepare as best we can. Dressed in his waterproof outdoor gear, David, 29, added.

Cape Breton, in northeastern Nova Scotia, is expected to be at or near the center of the storm when it makes landfall on Saturday morning.

It is difficult for the coastal community to absorb the significant damage caused by storms, Boudreaux said, because wind-damaged boats are key to their lifestyle.

“This is our livelihood. Our boats have been wrecked, our traps have been wrecked… They are things you don’t need to start your season next year,” said the 33-year-old Boudreau.

Aidan Sampson, 25, said he’s been working 11 hours a day at his father-in-law’s boat dock for the past week, lifting fishing vessels out of the water.

“If they stay in the water and face the quayside, they can be swept away by the waves for hours with the potential to drown,” Sampson said.

About 500 meters away, Rodney Fouger and his son Roger Fouger were tying up their family’s cruise boat in Petite de Grat harbor with all the ropes they could locate, using thick plastic buoys to help slow the craft when the waves came.

Rodney Fougere, 63, a resident of Arichat, said he remembers a storm in 1974 that destroyed mobile homes.

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He said, “I’m tying up my ship as best I can, so it’s still here after the storm…They say this boat is up here in terms of wind.”

“I hope everyone stays safe. Things and things can be exchanged, but my biggest concern is people,” said Fougere, who has been fishing most of his life.

“It can be very dangerous. …I hope if you come back tomorrow you will see the same thing as today – boats above the water line.”

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 23, 2022.

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