This has been a sad, sad week for fishermen and their loved ones. Some are calling it the “most deadly 24 hours” in recent history for the Pacific. Off the coast of Washington and Oregon, six men, five fishermen and one federal fisheries observer, lost their lives this week and three boats have been lost. Four men are missing from the 70-foot F/V Lady Cecelia, a trawler fishing off the coast of Washington. The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search last Sunday. Two other men lost their lives when their boat capsized near Gold Beach. A third boat, the F/V Chevelle ran aground on a jetty in Newport, OR. All four survived but the 70-foot crabber remained slammed against the rocks, getting torn apart with each crashing wave. Click here to read more: www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-new/index.ssf/2012/03/five_deaths_off_oregon_washing.html.
My heart sinks typing this. While I don’t think this is every fisherman’s nightmare, I think this is the nightmare of every fisherman’s friends, family and loved ones. We fishermen don’t fear being lost at sea, but our families fear it for us. I’d like to take a moment to remember those lost at sea. Not only those lost this last week but also all who have been lost at sea.
Before I read the news of those lost men and boats, I had been planning on answering the request of posting some videos from this year’s Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria. Then I read the news and my heart sank. Through out the week, I grappled with whether I should stick to my plan or write about the recent tragedies at sea. I knew I couldn’t just ignore the heartbreak of loosing fishermen but I also wanted to keep sharing the stories of fishermen. And that is what I decided to do, to share our stories in the remembrance of all those lost at sea. I wanted to revere those men and women who are no longer with us and who can no longer tell their own stories. It is up to us to keep their memory alive by telling their stories for them and continuing to tell our own tales of the sea in honor of those men and women who only the gulls know where they lay.
Fisher Poets Dave Densmore says it well in his poem “The Edge” found on this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dep6CcJ1xdY. He nails it again
with his poem found below, “The Ride” where he talks about being rescued at sea by a passing Japanese fishing boat.
Those men on there were fishermen,
Fish and sea, were our ties.
The sympathy and solicitude
Showed plainly in their eyes.
Well, the did all they could,
As though we were their very own.
I’ll be forever grateful
To those men who brought us home.
Now you can draw your own
I know I sure have mine.
I thank God, every day,
For this life so sweet and fine.
Fisher Poet Mary Garvey has the voice of a nautical angel. Her song “Tie it up and let it rot” is one of her many original sea shanties about fishing. Check out her video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77sHORKXf_w&feature=related.
My own poems, Value, Free and my silly Xtra-Tuff song can be found on youtube here at: http://bit.ly/yylEfw.
Other Fisher Poets can be found on Pat Dixon’s page “in the tote” found here: http://inthetote.com/.
Until next time, fair winds and safe returns.