Before disappearing 18 miles off of the coast of Manzanilla on Sunday afternoon, 66-year-old Reinaldo Novoa began writing a book about the love of his life, titled Tales of the Trinbago Sea.
It’s now been more than sixty hours since he went missing but his family has no doubt Reinaldo will finish his book himself.
“Our failures at finding Reinaldo Novoa Senior at sea, despite the tremendous effort by the public, government and the private sector, can only mean he made it to land, which increases his chance of survival immensely,” Novoa’s son, Reinaldo Jr, said yesterday.
According to Reinaldo Jr, it’s a very tense and emotional time for everyone but the family is being kept strong by their desire to find his father alive and well.
The family is also being strengthened, he said, by the support of the country, which he described as nothing short of amazing.
Since Sunday afternoon, search parties have been extensively searching the east and north coasts of Trinidad, by land, air and sea, for the retired nurse.
And the search effort has even been expanded as far as Tobago.
“Tremendous. I get updates as things are about to happen and after they happen,” Novoa’s son told Guardian Media.
“The Air Guard and Coast Guard are going beyond the call of duty right now, every day of the search. I only hope that the current limitations being experienced in the lack of a would-be invaluable operational helicopter fleet gets addressed.”
Local fishermen, friends, relatives, members of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, T&T Police Service, T&T Defence Force’s Coast and Air Guard, PHI Americas Ltd., as well as Good Samaritans, are among those who are part of the search teams. All their efforts are being coordinated via a Whatsapp group called Search and Rescue, which contains more than 90 people – the majority of whom are working long hours.
According to Reinaldo Jr, it’s no surprise that people are coming out in their dozens to join the search.
After all, he said his father was a kind, generous man, loved by all and has touched many lives.
“The passion and meticulous manner about which everyone is treating this search and respecting each other in this high tension time is a true testament to how much love is returning to him from his good deeds in life,” Reinaldo Jr added.
Asked what message he would have for his father if he could hear him, he said, “We are coming, whether time has made you wish different or not, we are coming. God’s will be done and for this, we are eternally grateful.”
After sending the message, he immediately returned to coordinating operations for the search.
Last Sunday, after being taken out in a boat by a boat owner, Novoa Sr started diving 18 miles off Manzanilla Point at around 10.25 am. The water, according to residents, was rough and choppy, with strong currents. He was last seen at 11 at the GPS location 1027711 06043332. Sea patterns indicated that the currents would have taken him north toward Toco. Relatives said he is a strong swimmer and diving instructor, and at the time of the dive he had buoyancy equipment.
Yesterday’s search ranged from Manzanilla to Guayaguayare to Matura to Scarborough. Teams searched the beach in Fishing Pond Village, bays along the North Coast and an aerial scour that stretched as far as the Tobago’s East Coast. They also used drones and focused on buoys and secluded areas along the coastline. The family was thankful to pilots, including Bristow Caribbean Ltd, for low fly-bys at surface levels during trips between platforms along Trinidad’s East Coast.
But by late afternoon, there was no sighting of Novoa.
The search continues this morning.