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Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 16:48 GMT
'It could have been me'

Fishermen graphic Lost: Craig Mills (left) with his brother Robin

For two fishermen, the Solway Harvester sinking is doubly distressing.

Charlie Boyce and James Gorman are grieving for their friends but are living with the knowledge that they had been due to sail on the trip from which the trawler failed to return.

Mr Boyce had just returned from holiday in America and was suffering from jetlag and flu.

He's been wondering if the incident would have happened if he'd been on board
Fisherman's friend
He has been too upset to talk publicly about the loss of the Solway Harvester and its seven crew.

A friend, who asked not to be named, said: "Charlie had been due to go out in the boat and swapped places with Robin Mills, I think.

"He's really, really upset and he can't speak about it but I know he's been wondering if the incident would have happened if he'd been on board and I think it's probably been preying on his mind.

'Very upset and unhappy'

"I've known him since he was a wee boy. He's 29 now and he's a good lad and really very upset and unhappy about the ship going down and what's happened to his friends."

James Gorman was prevented from going to sea by a bout of gastroenteritis.

Flowers Flower have been laid in tribute to the crew
Speaking at the family home in Garlieston near Whithorn, his wife Tracey said: "My husband is asleep now. It's the first sleep he's been able to get since it all happened.

"He's just been devastated by it."

John King, director of West Coast Sea Products, the company for which the Solway Harvester was fishing, spoke of the community's sense of loss and bafflement.

"Nobody knows what to think," he said. "It was one of the most modern vessels in Kirkcudbright.

"There have been only two or three new vessels in Kirkcudbright since it was built."

'Something very sudden'

Commenting on the possible causes for the vessel's sinking, he added: "I would not say it was a freak wave because that type of vessel is capable in any weather in the Irish Sea.

"It was something very sudden which we do not know about."

Whithorn harbour The Whithorn community has been devastated
Mr King said skipper Craig Mills was a much respected fisherman. "He was dedicated to his job. He loved the sea so much he went at weekends for pleasure.

"He would go sea angling and go mucking about on the ships. His house even overlooked the sea."

Only 18 fishing boats work out of Kirkcudbright and on Thursday some had decided not to sail despite the good weather.

"There are still a few boats in the harbour," said Mr King. "They are staying ashore for a few days but eventually everyone has to go back.

Mr King said the greatest sorrow felt by all in the fishing communities was over the young children left fatherless by the tragedy.

"They just expect dads to sail into the harbour and return as usual."

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See also:
13 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Trawler wreck may stay on seabed
11 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Trawler wreckage located
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
PM's sympathy for fishing community
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Fishing community faces up to loss
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Fishing safety back in the spotlight
13 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Scallop ban claim in fishing tragedy
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Solway Harvester tragedy in pictures

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