Missing fisherman's wife confident in safe return

All harbormasters are on alert for the fishing vessel AVARICIOUS

,p.By JOHN LEANING
STAFF WRITER CCT

CHATHAM - 09/01/04) Stasia Richardson's husband, Bradley, has been missing at sea for seven days. The tuna fisherman was supposed to return from a trip last Thursday, and the search has so far been in vain. But there's something that gives Stasia Richardson hope. "He's more comfortable on the water than on land," she said. In between watching her 21-year-old son, Michael, load a pickup in preparation for a drive to Boston to begin his third year at Suffolk University, directing a landscaping crew, and answering questions about her husband, Richardson paused to express her thanks for peoples' concern. She also said she is confident her husband will return safely. "There is so much support from the community. My request to you is to thank everyone who is making an effort to find him. "He's very impressive on the water," she said, noting that with good weather returning, many fishermen will be out at sea, and stand a good chance of spotting her husband's wooden, white-hulled, 33-foot boat, the Avaricious.

Richardson left Chatham Aug. 22 by himself, bound for Hydrographers Canyon, an area where he planned to fish, his wife said yesterday. The area is 65 miles southeast of Nantucket. She said he had plenty of food and water on board, but he would have run out of fuel by Aug. 24, unless he went to a port and refueled. When he did not return Aug. 26 as planned, his wife notified the Coast Guard he was overdue.

The Coast Guard began a search immediately, and it has expanded its efforts to include surface boats and planes. Alerts to fisherman have asked for their help. The search pricetag reached $320,000 yesterday, the Coast Guard said. Fishermen in the area told Coast Guard officials they saw Richardson on Aug. 23 and 25 in the Hydrographers Canyon area fishing. There have been no reports of any sightings since. Petty Officer Andrew Shinn said there were several factors keeping Coast Guard officials optimistic that Richardson will turn up. They know the boat was in good condition, since it was serviced at a boatyard Aug. 9. Second, he had a radio and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon on board, which, when activated manually or when in water, emits a satellite beacon that pinpoints the sending vessel and its location. Third is that the weather has generally been good, and Richardson has been spotted by two vessels on two days in the same area. In addition, in records of his last official boarding and inspection in January 2001, the Avaricious passed all inspections. One of the first things inspectors look at are survival suits, life rafts and properly operating radio and emergency positioning devices. "All were in place and squared away," Shinn said.

It is also encouraging that no one has spotted any wreckage, debris, or an oil slick that might indicate a problem. There has been no decision to suspend the search, Shinn said. That decision is up to Rear Adm. David Pekoske, commander of the First Coast Guard District in Boston. (Published: September 2, 2004)