New Bedford, Massachusetts, just twenty miles from my home, buried five of their own last week in the worst loss of a fishing vessel in nearly fifteen years:
Five fishermen lost at sea when their boat capsized in a storm were remembered as heroes Sunday in a memorial service that also touched on the question of whether fishing regulations may have unduly put them at risk.
About 300 friends, family and politicians including U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy filled the 173-year-old Seamen’s Bethel to honor the sacrifices of men who accepted the risks of the sea to make a living and feed others.
”Five more men of courage and determination have gone from our midst and will not return to shore,” the Rev. Kenneth Garrett, the church’s chaplain, said from a wooden pulpit carved in the shape of a ship prow.
”I often wonder what is the true price of a pound of scallops,” said Christopher Gaudiello, a fisherman who was a friend of one of the victims.
The Dec. 20 loss of the boat Northern Edge was the worst loss of life aboard a single vessel at sea in New England since six crew members of the Gloucester-based Andrea Gail died in the ”Perfect Storm” in 1991.
Swells reaching 15 feet high rolled the Northern Edge onto its side, spilling the scalloper’s crew into the ocean about 45 miles southeast of Nantucket. Lost were Capt. Carlos Lopes; Ray Richards; Glen Crowley; Juan Flores; and Eric Guillen.
Senator Kennedy was also on hand and spoke of the call of the sea:
Kennedy spoke of the passion his brother, former President John F. Kennedy, felt for the sea a passion he said the crew of the Northern Edge shared.
”The call of the sea is strong and irresistible, even with the knowledge of that danger,” Kennedy said.
For whatever reason, I have spent the last few days re-reading Sebastian Junger’s incredible novel The Perfect Storm. If you’ve not read it, you should – it’s a fascinating look at the lives that modern day fisherman lead – and the incredibly dangerous world that they work in.