Yukon student plucked from ocean off Brazilian coast

A Yukon student was aboard a Canadian ship that sank off the coast of Brazil yesterday evening. Seventeen-year-old Erica Trimble is safe after the SV Concordia, owned by Nova Scotia's West Island College International, capsized near Rio de Janeiro.

A Yukon student was aboard a Canadian ship that sank off the coast of Brazil yesterday evening.

Seventeen-year-old Erica Trimble is safe after the SV Concordia, owned by Nova Scotia’s West Island College International, capsized near Rio de Janeiro. The three-masted ship’s 64-member crew are all reported safe.

“It’s been quite a night,” said Erica’s mother Ella LeGresley.

LeGresley still hasn’t spoken with her daughter, who, she believes, arrived in Brazil this morning.

“All I know is that she’s safe and that’s a huge relief. The rest is just details,” she said with a laugh.

Included among the crew were 48 students, all in grades 11, 12 and first-year university.

They were on a 10-month journey between Recife, Brazil and Montevideo, Uruguay in a program known as Class Afloat.

Yesterday morning, the Halifax Rescue Co-ordination Centre received a distress signal from authorities in Brazil.

But officials from the Class Afloat program in Lunenburg were unable to contact the vessel, which had capsized 300 nautical miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

After receiving the distress call at 2 p.m. Eastern time, the school contacted the parents to inform them of the trouble.

But it wasn’t until 8 p.m., that Brazil’s Air Search and Rescue finally spotted a safety boat and four life rafts on the water. Nearby ships responded to the call for help and rescued the entire ship’s crew.

Not until after the rescue was everyone accounted for, said LeGresley.

“The school has been doing an excellent job of communicating with us,” she said.

LeGresley doesn’t regret her daughter’s participation on the trip.

“I overheard on the radio today a mom saying she thought maybe it wasn’t a good idea she had sent her child on the trip,” she said. “But I still think it was a good idea.”

In an e-mail to the News in December, Trimble discussed her trip.

“So here I am, three months into my adventure at Class Afloat and I’ve visited six countries over four continents and I am having the time of my life,” she wrote, noting she has a blog at http://sailingyukoner.blogspot.com/.

“I am currently a little behind in my blog because I was studying for midterm exams and have been really busy since then, but I’m sure I will catch up with my writing on the 24-hour flying time home from Brazil!”

She flew home on January 23 and returned to Brazil to continue the trip on February 3.

The ship left northeast Brazil on February 8 and was to dock in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday.

Before attending West Island College International, Trimble was a student at Porter Creek Secondary School where she had taken a semester of Achievement Challenge Environment and Service (ACES) at the Wood Street school.

“When Erica told me that she wanted to take this sailing trip, I was all for it,” said her mother.

“She’s very adventurous and athletic, this trip was tailor-made for her.”

Through the ACES program, Trimble had done numerous outdoor trips like paddling down the Yukon River, and she is also an avid alpine skier.

The SV Concordia, is still unaccounted for and officials don’t know why it sank, according to Kate Knight, the head of the college, who was quoted by the Globe and Mail.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com