CBC’s the fifth estate studies Gainey tragedy

Image courtesy gaineyfoundation.com

CBC news release:

It’s been almost a year since that awful night, December 8, 2006, when hockey legend Bob Gainey got the phone call that told him his daughter, Laura, was missing in the turbulent waters of the Atlantic.

Laura, a crew member on the tall ship Picton Castle, had been swept overboard as the ship sailed through a fierce storm and high seas on a voyage from Nova Scotia to Grenada. Laura’s death was headline news across the country. In the days that followed, the explanation of how this could have happened seemed simple enough – the 25-year-old Laura had been an unfortunate victim, in the wrong place at the wrong time, swept away by a “rogue wave”. The fact that she wasn’t wearing a safety harness or even a life preserver didn’t raise many questions at the time.

But, what really happened that night on board the Picton Castle? OVERBOARD airs on CBC News: the fifth estate, Wednesday, November 28 at 9 p.m. (9:30 p.m. NT) on CBC Television.

Gillian Findlay and a fifth estate team have investigated the circumstances of Laura Gainey’s death and her time on the Picton Castle and found a ship with serious safety problems. They also obtained copies of not one, but two, conflicting reports that were commissioned to investigate the incident.

The first criticized the Picton Castle for sailing so late in the season, for being undermanned and not following basic safety rules. But, that report was shelved and a second – called by some a cover-up –
was written. It praised the Picton Castle as well-run and safety-conscious and put much of the responsibility for the accident on the victim herself.

In OVERBOARD, you will meet some of Laura’s fellow crewmates, eyewitnesses to the events of that fateful night in the Atlantic, you’ll see video that they shot, and, for the first time, you’ll hear from the man who felt the tragedy most deeply: Bob Gainey.


  1. DYLANESQ says:

    I am so glad that the Fifth Estate has done an investigation on this tragedy (airing Nov 28, Wednesday).At the time I wrote letters to them, as well as to a lot of Canadian newspapers and government officials, demanding that a Canadian investigation take place as I did not feel that the Cook Islands was exactly up for an impartial investigation.

    When this tragedy of the excruciating loss of Bob Gainey’s daughter,Laura, occured, I tracked the Picton Castle online but soon found out that they had stopped filing their daily position (which is not mandatory, but I would think ought to be when they have paying passengers aboard)and it was not until much later when they docked in the Caribbean that they appeared on the map again. To me this indicated a definite attempt to cut off any communication.

    I felt that, under the circumstances they ought to have gone to the first port available (Boston?) as I felt that it would look very suspicious if they continued (as they did, for 10 days)and could be accused of having taken time to hide any evidence or coach the passengers.

    At a minimum, in Laura’s memory, a full investigation needs to take place to attempt to eliminate the possibility of a similar tragedy happening again and to clear the Picton Castle’s company and captain of any wrong doing, if none occured and, most importantly, to give some clarity to the Gainey family.If it was ‘only’ an accident then the family deserves to know that, categorically.

    I shall be very interested to hear what the Fifth estate has found out.Their ad for the program suggests there are discrepancies in the stories of what actually occured.

  2. Sulemaan says:

    My old man worked in the CBC for 30 years (full disclosure) but I still find their reporting to be some of the most unbiased and substantiated news-room reporting in Canada from a television perspective. When I see Fox News it makes me want to reach for Pepto-Bismal but I digress.

    We’ll have to wait to see the program but I think the 5th Estate will do right by Bob Gainey and his family. The key is that this kind of tragedy be avoided from occurring again in the future with another family.

    What is sad is that Laura Gainey was a recovering drug addict and turned her life around. When they retire Bob Gainey’s jersey it will be a very emotional night indeed.

    For a man who lost his wife and his daughter he epitomizes the words ‘character’, ‘class’ and ‘dignity’. I couldn’t agree more with cournoyer 12, we are very lucky to have Bob Gainey in our organization. Not only for his hockey acumen but the other intangibles he brings to our team.

  3. Exit716 says:

    The Fifth Estate is probably the best investigative journalism program broadcast in English North America. IMHO it is far superior to anything offered by the US networks broadcast or cable.
    If it wasn’t reputable I am sure that the family would not have participated.
    What was objectionable about the whole story was how the vultures of the media were swarming over the family immediately after it happened and how they tried to get Bob’s mother to comment, so much so that the family had to issue the request to back off.

  4. KerryPrice says:

    I personally worked on the docks.hehe.Not in that way. One summer i think the year was like 1997 the Tall Ships were in my province. I seen the Picton Castle up close. It wasn`t the most beutifull ship thats foresure.Pretty greasey looking. They coulda done tonnes of work on it by 2006 though.
    Someone should have been with her when this went down.She shouldn`t have been on deck by herself. Hopefully the Picton Castle will never sail again. It just sickens me that she never had anyone with her. Someone should be held responcible one way or another. I`m not saying criminally. But there needs to be some kinda investigation.

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