NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Authorities searching for three fishermen missing in seas off New Providence since last week Sunday have expanded the search to cover north Eleuthera and the northern Exuma cays.
According to Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) officials, the ongoing search involving four defense force assets, BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association) and the United States Coast Guard has covered New Providence and surrounding cays to north Eleuthera and the northern Exuma cays with “negative sighting today”.
The boaters — Barry Cartwright, 57, a father of one, and two other men, known as Stephen and “Molar” — left Potter’s Cay last week Sunday on a 12-foot skiff to fish for a few hours around the northern coast of New Providence and were expected back the same day.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Cartwright’s brother Max Cartwright said the family remains hopeful the men will be found safely, although he acknowledged that the time elapsed since they went missing and the unfavorable conditions last week diminish their chances.
However, Cartwright said his brother is an experienced fisherman who survived challenges at sea a couple of years ago using his knowledge of his boat and the ocean.
“He is a very good diver and he operates boats very well,” he said of his brother, who is also a carpenter and mason.
“He [has] been in a similar situation with him and another friend one night; they anchored on a sandbank. What happened is when the tide went down, the boat turned sideways and they slept in the boat all night, but when tide came back up they were able to get the boat off the sand. This was a couple of years ago.”
According to Cartwright, his brother also owns a 42-foot vessel, but he believes the men went out in the smaller craft because it was intended to be a brief fishing trip ahead of the cold front.
“They usually go right in the back of Paradise Island on the north side, and then they go east and they fish there,” he told Eyewitness News.
“But it was so rough that day [that] I don’t think they went on the north side.
“I don’t know, but that’s usually where they go.
“For the size boat they went in, it could have only been for a couple of hours.
“…That evening when they did not come back in, and the next morning, one guy’s girlfriend called BASRA because she came out there looking for him and she said she saw his car parked later.
“Later on, his sisters came and took the car from there.
“So far, from then, we let the authorities know and I have been out one time with BASRA and we looked on the eastern end of Rose Island, went all the way almost to Eleuthera and turned around and we looked, and we didn’t see anything. That was Friday. Monday, when they informed BASRA, BASRA went out there, but they only could of only gone on the eastern side [and] they could not go on the north side, they say because it was too rough.
“The defense force went out I think Friday morning, too. They went out looking.”
He continued: “I am hoping and I am keeping my fingers crossed.”
On Saturday, RBDF Search and Rescue Coordinator Commander William Sturrup said: “After some five days of canvassing an expansive area of waters around the northern island of New Providence and surrounding cays and inlet by members of the RBDF and BASRA, we haven’t located the vessel or its occupants as yet.
“A United States Coast Guard air asset has also joined in the search efforts, which extended as far as Chub Cay, Ship Channel and Highbourne Cay.
“The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is grateful to interagency partners for their support in this activity and remains poised to keeping Bahamian waters safe.”
It remains unclear when the search began for the men or when the US Coast Guard became involved in the search.
Yesterday, Cartwright said the defense force advised the families of the missing men to come to the defense force’s base for a report on the matter.