Late Tuesday afternoon Captain Ellie Smith was back on his lobster vessel, Corey & Tyson, salvaging trawl lines and lobster traps, even as crews from Rose Valley Trucking were continuing to wench the vessel into an upright position and secure it beside the wharf in Port Maitland.
The lobster boat sank at the wharf late on Monday evening. Just hours ahead of the 6 a.m. start of fall lobster season in District 34, the vessel was fully loaded, with over 200 traps on board, and its fuel tanks full.
Smith left the wharf Monday night around 8:30. He told The Vanguard there was nothing different from every other opening day he's participated in during the last couple decades. Two hours later, close to high tide, someone on the wharf raised the alarm. The boat had capsized at the wharf. Over the next hours, as the tide ebbed, there was a mad scramble to rescue gear and traps off the capsized boat while it was beached.
Standing on the wharf through the next day, waiting to see his submerged vessel rise from the water, Smith had lots of time to speculate on what might have happened. No matter how many times he went over it, explaining why it shouldn't have happened, nothing changes the reality. His boat was under water.
An excavator was brought in, lines secured, and an attempt made to haul the boat across the harbour entrance to the shore across from the head of the wharf where it had sunk. The attempt was unsuccessful.
The rest of the fleet of a dozen boats delayed their start out of the harbour until light, as the submerged vessel was a hazard to navigation through the narrow entrance to the inner harbour.
By mid-morning Transport Canada and insurance representatives were on site. A diver attempted to plug the fuel tanks, as fuel was leaking from an air vent in the boat's side.
It finally took two excavators and heavy chain link ropes to right the boat. Once it came up off its side, and was stabilized, the rest of the gear was removed and pumps began emptying the boat's bilges of water.
It will be left to Transport Canada to determine the cause of the sinking.
On the wharf Tuesday Smith was at a loss to explain it.
"I just don't know," he said.