News / Halifax

Community in grief: Cold ocean claims life of Nova Scotia fisherman

Jim Buchanan was lobster fishing aboard the Lockeport-based boat Secret Sea when he fell overboard on Jan. 7.

Jim Buchanan drowned last week.

Handout/TC Media

Jim Buchanan drowned last week.

A family, his friends and the community continue to grieve after the cold ocean claimed the life of another fisherman in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Jim Buchanan, 44, was lobster fishing aboard the Lockeport-based boat Secret Sea when he fell overboard on Jan. 7.

One moment he was there and the next he was gone. It took the crew only moments to double back and pick Buchanan out of the 6 degree Celsius water.

But Buchanan did not survive the incident.

His family does not know how he fell into the water. There was speculation of a heart attack.

“That’s what everybody thought it was,” says Michael Buchanan, Jim’s brother.  “But when the autopsy came back that was ruled out.”

The cause of death according to the autopsy, he says, was drowning.

Jim had a nickname of Big Jim or the gentle giant, attributable to his open and outgoing demeanor and his 6’4 height.

“Jim was a wonderful man with a heart of gold,” says Buchanan.  “He loved his family and would do anything for his wife and children.”

He was married for 25 years and was a proud father and grandfather.

“Jim would do anything for anybody,” Buchanan says. “If you asked a favour he would drop what he was doing and help.”

Jim’s love of hunting and fishing was great. His obituary says he started lobster fishing at the age of 15 and it also describes him as an avid woodsman. His giant love for family and fiends, meanwhile, has placed a hole in the hearts of the community.

“For me, it’s a hard concept that my brother is no longer with us,” Buchanan says. “Nobody ever wants to get that phone call.”

He says the family are all still in shock over the loss of Jim.

“Jim was a great man,” he says.

Several fundraisers have been started to help support the family and cover funeral costs. Buchanan’s funeral is being held Friday.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) deployed a team of investigators to Shelburne to gather information and assess the circumstances of this incident.

“We will gather as much information as we can and talk with witnesses and look at the boat,” explains Pierre Murray with the TSB.

He says in the coming weeks they would then analyze the data to determine if the TSB needs to do an in-depth investigation.

“Sometimes bad things happen and there isn’t much we can do,” he says, however there are times when the TSB can make recommendations to advance safety. But these changes and recommendations don’t always come quickly. Investigations can be complicated and time consuming.

If there is reason for a full-length investigation, Murray says it could take up to a year and a half to complete. But he says it is worth the effort.

“We do this so it won’t happen again,” says Murray.  “We make changes to make things safer.”

More on