A memorial for the six crew members of the scallop dragger Chief William Saulis will soon stand on a wilderness trail in Annapolis County, overlooking the Bay of Fundy where the vessel went down.
The Chief William Saulis was returning to its home port of Digby from a fishing trip when the vessel sent out an emergency beacon signal around 5:51 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2020, near Delaps Cove.
Crewmen Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Daniel Forbes, Eugene Francis and the boat’s captain, Charles Roberts were lost to the sea. The body of crewman Mike Drake was found the night the vessel went down.
Lori Cogswell Phillips, whose son Aaron was one of the lost crew, is having the memorial monument installed.
“I couldn’t justify putting a headstone on an empty piece of land that had no meaning for my son so I came up with this idea,” said Phillips.
Working with the Municipality of Annapolis County and local fisherman Colin Sproul, a site on the Bohaker Trail, which is part of the Delaps Cove Wilderness Trail system, has been selected for the memorial stone.
“It will be a nice placement, said Debra Ryan, manager of tourism for the Municipality.
The site is about a 15-minute walk from the trail head and is located on the northeastern side of the Bohaker Trail.
While getting the memorial stone to its site will be challenging, Sproul offered to lend a hand.
“I’ve got a boat shop in Delaps Cove and I’ve got equipment,” said Sproul, adding he and his brother will first be taking crushed stone to the site and installing a concrete slab in advance of the monument arriving.
Phillips said she expects the stone will be installed this summer. “We looked at different locations. We wanted somewhere near the water and that is accessible,” adding she is very thankful for the help and support from Ryan and Sproul.
The names of the six lost fishermen are also going to be added to the memorial book at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg as well as the Lost to the Sea Monument on Yarmouth’s waterfront.
Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said a team is in the process of making the arrangements and expects the names will be added before fall.
Meanwhile, Phillips continues to wait for the Transportation Safety Board’s (TSB) report on the sinking of the Chief William Saulis.
“The initial draft of the report is complete and it is in the review part of the phase. After the review of the draft report is complete, it will be sent to the designated reviewers for comment,” reads an update sent to Phillips from the TSB on April 21.
“It seems like everybody is dragging their heels when it comes to this boat and I don’t understand why,” said Phillips.
“My notification that the boat sank was on Facebook. That’s how I found out my son was at the bottom of the ocean, through Facebook and my son lived with me. They didn’t even know who was on the boat,” adding the families of three people thought to be on the vessel when it sank had police show up and tell them their loved ones were lost and they weren’t even on the boat.
“The whole thing has been an ordeal,” she said.
The Chief William Saulis was located using side scan sonar a month after it sunk. The vessel was found upright more than two kilometres from the shore of Delaps Cove at a depth of more than 60 metres.