Friends and family will gather next week to remember Robert Davis, a long-time Port Hardy resident and avid fisherman who was killed in a tragic boating incident.
“Bob was like my other dad,” said good pal and commercial fisherman, Rick Sadler, in a letter to the Gazette.
“Bob was the most giving person with his time and fish, always supplying people who couldn’t get out to fish‚ he even treated us with fish from time to time,” he said.
“I find some comfort in knowing Bob was doing what he loved the most when he left this world … I loved him so very much.”
Davis was seen about 5:30 a.m. Thursday by a crew member aboard a fishing boat who reported seeing the 70-year-old clinging to the bow rope of his upside down, 16-foot boat on the west side of Hardy Bay, between Duval Point and the Tsulquate River.
Davis slipped under the water before the fishermen could get to him.
The Coast Guard was quickly on scene and pulled Davis from the water and transported him to the Port Hardy wharf before he was rushed to hospital.
Attempts to resuscitate Davis were unsuccessful.
RCMP said the senior was not wearing a PFD or a lifejacket and the cause of the incident is still under investigation.
Janice Davis said she didn’t believe her husband was in the water long before the tragedy occurred.
“But (the authorities) don’t know what happened; there was no hole in his boat and the bow seam was opened, but they said it could have happened when they brought the boat up,” she said.
“He didn’t hit another boat or a rock, but he hit something, we just don’t know what.”
Janice said she’s still dealing with the tragedy.
“It’s such a shock; we were so close but now the whole bottom has fallen out.”
Davis was born in Pender Harbour, and had a rod and reel put in his hand while still very young.
“Both his grandfather and father were commercial fishermen and Bob lost a brother who was a commercial fisherman when he was 18 — he drowned in a storm with a boatload of fish,” said Janice.
Davis, a dad of two daughters and grandfather to six, spent nearly 30 years in the Canadian Forces force as a radar tech, a job that took him and his family to various locations around Canada.
The family came to Port Hardy in 1989 where Davis worked as a commissionaire in the area for a few years before retiring and devoting himself to his favourite pastime, fishing.
As much as he loved to fish, he was more devoted to his church, said Pastor Kevin Martineau, of the Port Hardy Baptist Church, where Davis was a greeter for the past 12 or 13 years.
“He loved fishing, but he loved his god more,” said Martineau.
Added Sadler: “Bob has been a godsend to me, always praying for me, especially when I was out fishing at sea.”
Davis also had a real love for nature and wildlife.
“He would catch an extra fish for the eagles, stop in Christy Pass, wave the fish around in the air until the eagles would come and almost take it from his hand,” Sadler said.
“I feel at peace knowing that Bob is in Heaven with Jesus, soaring with wings just like his beloved eagles.”
A service for Davis is planned for 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 6 at the Port Hardy Civic Centre, 7450 Columbia St.