Thoughts and Prayers to Mr Gainey and his family in this critical time

Woman missing at sea is Bob Gainey’s daughter

The Canadian woman who was washed over the side of a tall ship in the mid-Atlantic Friday night has been identified as Laura Gainey, the daughter of the general manager and executive vice-president of the Montreal Canadiens.

Updated Sun. Dec. 10 2006 10:44 AM ET News Staff

A spokesman for the Canadiens said Gainey is with family, specifically his three other children, and has temporarily stepped down from his role with the NHL franchise.

Captain Daniel Moreland, who was not aboard the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia-based Picton Castle when the incident occurred, identified the missing 25-year-old woman earlier Sunday morning.

He said she was apparently swept into the sea when a powerful wave struck the ship about 750 kilometres east-southeast of Cape Cod when it ran into rough seas.

“It sounds like the deck was swamped long enough to take one person over the side,” Moreland said.

He told CTV Newsnet she is a “strong woman, smart, hard working, passionate about ships and the sea and intending to make it a profession.”

Gainey was a trainee with the 55-metre ship, and had previously taken part in a three-month voyage from Cape Town, South Africa to Lunenburg. The Caribbean expedition was her second with the ship.

He said she “was not a professional sailor but a strongly experienced amateur.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. coast guard says the search is in the crucial stage.

Spokeswoman Faith Wisinski said aircraft resumed searching at dawn, and a U.S. coast guard vessel continued searching through the night. The crew of the Picton Castle, along with an oil tanker in the area, are also involved in the search.

However, Wisinski said that as of 9 a.m. this morning, Gainey has been in the water 30 hours.

She said the water is warm in the area, but it’s expected hypothermia would normally take a person’s life after 36 hours.

Gainey wasn’t wearing a life-jacket when she went overboard.

Moreland said weather conditions have stabilized at sea, and the search will continue until Gainey is found, or all hope is exhausted.

“They’re going to carry on,” Moreland said. “There are cases of people being in the water at this temperature for extended periods of time.”

He said Gainey’s family and her fellow crew members are in shock.

Moreland stayed on shore for the first time in a decade when the ship set sail three days ago.

He was at home in Lunenburg when the crew notified him shortly after 9:30 p.m. Friday that a crew member was missing. She was one of 29 people on board.

“Losing a crew member is the constant fear of a skipper at sea, regardless of the size of the vessel,” he told CTV Atlantic on Saturday.

Owned and operated by the Windward Isles Sailing Ship Company, the ship has berths for 40 trainees and 12 professional crew members. It has taught hundreds to sail the high seas over the last decade, completing four around-the-world voyages.

With files from The Canadian Press