THE search to find the boat belonging to two fishermen found dead in a local reservoir could take days or even weeks to complete, police have said.
Officers believe recovering the missing wooden boat will be key to determining what happened to Andrew Conlon, 56, and David Archibald, 59, from Dalkeith, who were found dead in the Gladhouse Reservoir, Gorebridge, on Monday.
But bad weather and the possibility of the boat having sunk in the open water of the reservoir have raised concerns that it could be weeks before they are able to get any answers. A search had been launched for the two men after concerned family members called police when they failed to return from a fishing trip on Sunday.
The results of a post-mortem examination on both men have still to be released, although police believe their deaths were the result of a “tragic accident” which may have been caused by a medical condition.
It has been reported that the bodies were found without life-jackets, and police have still to recover their boat and equipment.
Specialist teams using sonar equipment have been searching for the wooden boat since Tuesday, focusing on an area in and around the harbour, close to the weir.
Police said the search had been hampered by bad weather, restricting the amount of time the crews could spend on the water.
They are expected to finish their examination of the weir area in the coming days, but if the boat is not found there the search will have to be extended to cover the entire body of the reservoir.
Gladhouse is the largest area of freshwater in the Lothians, covering almost 460 acres and with water up to 50ft deep, and police admitted it could take several weeks to find the boat if the search was extended. The news came as fellow fishermen paid tribute to the pair, and suggested their deaths should act as a warning to anyone fishing from a boat.
Mr Conlon was described as “an old school” fisherman who knew the stretch of water where he drowned “better than anyone”, and he was also responsible for safety at the site.
The reservoir is known to be hit by strong winds and warning signs are posted advising fishermen that it can be a “hazardous environment”.
On the internet site flyforum.com many users left condolences to the two men.
One user wrote: “Awful for the families and the rescue services who have to deal with this” while another added; “My thoughts and prayers are with the families. So very sad.”
Another user posted: “Regardless of what experience we have, all it takes on a rough day is one rogue wave or a big one caught badly and any one of us could be in trouble.