ARICHAT — The RCMP’s major crime unit meticulously inspected a fishing boat docked in Arichat harbour Monday, as a police dive team in Petit de Grat continued its search for a man who went missing when his boat overturned in the harbour over the weekend.
The RCMP said there was an altercation in the harbour early Saturday morning between 43-year-old Phillip Joseph Boudreau and people in another larger boat.
Police believe Boudreau’s small 16-foot boat tipped over as a result of the confrontation. Approximately 90 minutes later a call was made to RCMP about an overturned boat found at the mouth of Petit de Grat harbour.
Richmond County RCMP Sgt. Mark MacPherson said the wind, as well as the size of the area, were creating difficulty for the dive team Monday.
“There are so many factors that we may not know about, like how long was that boat adrift before they found it because we’re diving off where the boat was found. That’s all we know,” he said late Monday.
He said it’s now a recovery operation because too much time has passed to survive the frigid ocean conditions.
Strait Area Ground Search and Rescue did not take part in the search Monday, MacPherson added.
At the same time police divers were on the water, the RCMP major crime unit, based out of Truro, was in Arichat inspecting the hull of a fishing boat at the government wharf.
MacPherson said police seized the vessel and have spoken to the owner of the boat, Twin Maggies.
A forensic team examined the boat Monday and will determine today whether or not it was involved in the altercation on the water.
“They lifted it and just examined the hull for any damage that may have resulted from a collision or some form of contact with the vessel that had been capsized and then it was put back in the water,” said MacPherson.
The red and white boat, with an Acadian flag painted on the hull, is owned by C & D Fisheries Ltd.
The company was registered with the province’s registry of joint stock companies in April 2009. Carla Samson of nearby D’Escousse is the only person listed as business owner.
The Cape Breton Post placed a call to Samson’s home but there was no answer and a message wasn’t returned by press time Monday.
Curious local residents lined their cars on the main street in Arichat with all eyes on the wharf. Interest was piqued when a crane was brought to the site.
MacPherson said an RCMP underwater dive team won’t return to the search area today due to high winds that are forecast. He said the search will likely resume on Wednesday.
MacPherson also wouldn’t address reports that Boudreau was on the water poaching from other fishermen’s lobster traps when the altercation took place.
“I know that’s something that’s been going around rumour-wise but I can’t confirm that at this time.”
Most of the key witnesses had been interviewed by late in the day Monday, however MacPherson couldn’t say when, if any, charges will be laid in the case.
The RCMP is asking that anyone who has information about the incident to contact the St. Peter’s detachment at 535-2002.