Sunday 16th October - 10.55pm EST - 65 miles east of Sable Island
For Jacob Larsen, there was no way he could have predicted the storm’s ferocity. The fisherman simply looked on in awe at the increasingly turbulent waters below, and darkening skies above. Pale and trembling, he stood on the deck of the “Sea Mist.” A 65’ steel hull twin-screw fishing vessel built in 1984. As the boat rolled between the waves, he barked out orders as his crew battled the elements. Desperate to keep the Halifax bound fishing vessel afloat.
As another colossal wave crashed mercilessly onto the deck of the boat, Jacob’s stomach sank. Not with a sense of nausea, but for the first time in fear. As a fisherman, he was no stranger to bad weather. But in over fifteen years at sea, he had never known such cruelty from a storm. Turning towards the wheel house, the face of a soaked youngster echoed his own look of concern. Determined to be heard above the roar of the storm, he yelled out “Nick, ten degrees to port … quickly now.”
Wiping water from his face, the young deckhand shouted “Aye” as he gripped the small wooden wheel and turned it with all his strength. As the vessel began to change course another wave struck. This time with such viciousness, it sent Jacob careering backwards onto the steel deck of the boat. As the wall of water crashed down upon him, the deckhand darted out from the wheelhouse and screamed out “Skipper!”
Panic turned to relief for the youngster as he watched the water eventually subside, revealing a dazed but bruised Larsen sitting on his backside, clinging to a rope for dear life.
Spotting the kid away from his post and gasping for air, Jacob slowly pulled himself up and yelled out, “What are you doing? Get back to that goddam wheel and hold her steady.”
Without questioning the order, the teenager turned heel and bolted back towards the wheel house.
“Jacob … look at that!”
Now on his feet Jacob glanced across to where his brother and first mate Alistair was pointing. At first Jacob couldn’t make anything out, other than the white foam of the crashing waves hitting the hull. But as the moments passed he caught a glimpse of a small but powerful bright light emanating from beneath the darkness below. His elder brother jumped down from a nearby ladder and was now standing adjacent to his younger sibling, Alistair suddenly shouted out in alarm. “What the hell. Is that a submarine?”
At first glance Jakob thought that his brother was right. However, upon closer scrutiny, he concluded that there was something unnatural about the light. It appeared to remain static for too long, which is impossible for a surfacing submarine.
“I don’t think so ...”
At first, the light was small and unfocused; then as the seconds ticked by, it’s intensity grew and within moments the waters surrounding the “Sea Mist” exploded in a blaze of brilliant white light. As another wave crashed onto the deck, the vessel began to list dangerously to the left and Jacob gazed backwards at the terrified youngster in the wheelhouse. Then wiping a trickle of blood from his forehead and gasping heavily, he turned to his brother. “Alistair … you’d best put out a distress call.”
“You heard me … go now, before it’s too late.”
Without another word, the storm battered fisherman made his way awkwardly past the young deckhand into the main cabin. With shaking hands, he proceeded to tune the VHF radio transmitter to the emergency channel and pushed the red "DSC", or Digital Select Calling button which immediately began to transmit the boat’s GPS coordinates to the coastguard.
“Mayday, mayday. This is the Sea Mist. We are 65 miles east of Sable Island and are taking on water. As well as the storm, we have encountered unexplained lights from below. Possibly a submerged vessel. We require immediate assistance.”
“Again, this is the Sea Mist …”
As another wave came brutally smashing down onto the deck, the boat suddenly began to vibrate with a low rhythmic sensation. Struggling to remain upright, Jacob turned to face his brother who emerged from the main cabin with a look of bewilderment.
“Do you feel that, what the hell is that?”
Before Jacob could respond, the shuddering became so violent that inside the main cabin, equipment and crockery began to fall, smashing onto the floor with such force that it drove the young deckhand to move quickly out of the way in order to avoid injury. But as he emerged from the cabin, another enormous wave struck the vessel and literally lifted the teenager off his feet and flung him up into the air. Looking on in horror, Jacob and his elder brother watched helplessly as the youngster’s head struck a protruding metal pole. The impact was so devastating that the metal literally tore through the back of the teenager’s skull.
“Nick! … Jesus Christ.”
All the men could do was look on in horror at the grotesque scene which left the youngster lying dead on the ground. His eyes fixed wide in terror and his blood-soaked head left with a gaping hole because of the injury.
“Oh my god … Jacob, what are we going to do?”
“Get the men to the life raft … now!”
For a moment, Alistair just stood, soaked and dumbfounded at his brother’s apparently brutal reaction. “What? … Jesus Christ Jacob, y … you just can’t leave him like that.”
As the shaking increased, the intensity of light blazed around the vessel. Another wave crashed down onto the hull.
Turning away, Alistair stepped across the deck towards the dead teenager. But before he could kneel, Jacob suddenly seized his arm and roared, “Don’t be a fool Alistair. Do as I say and launch the raft … otherwise we’ll all end up like him.”
Tearing his arm free Alistair turned and hissed in seething anger, “Aye Captain.”
Then as he grudgingly moved away to muster the men, there was an abrupt and almighty jolt almost as if the vessel had been gripped by some unknown force. The impact caught Alistair off guard and he lost his footing. As he hit the floor, another wave crashed down on him, tossing him mercilessly along the deck as if he was nothing more than a child’s plaything.
Even as Jacob moved to somehow save his brother, the sheer force of the water hitting the deck was so unbearable, that in a single horrific moment, the last he saw of Alistair, was his contorted, terrified face as he tumbled over the rear rail of the “Sea Mist” and down into the icy depths of the North Atlantic.
As he opened his mouth to scream, he experienced a sudden and remarkable moment of calmness. Gazing across the deck he looked on as the remainder of his terrified crew frantically climbed aboard a life raft to escape.
“Jacob … Come on, get in, hurry!”
However, it was too late; the deafening roar of the crashing waves and screams for help were replaced by a sudden and unexpected eerie silence. Then for a moment, the blinding white light turned night into day and for Jacob Larsen and his crew, the “Sea Mist” was no more.