By Gary Dunster
On December 28, 2015, the Blaine Fisherman’s Memorial Committee lost its longest-tenured member, Jan Hrutfiord. She was not only a cornerstone of the committee but also a great ambassador for the fishing community. This year’s Blessing of the Fleet ceremony will pay tribute to her legacy.
The 31st annual Blessing of the Fleet will be held at the Blaine Boating Center on Sunday, May 1 at 1:30 p.m. This event has taken place every year since 1985, when the Fisherman’s Memorial Committee was formed. It honors not only those that have been lost at sea, but also those that have passed away since the last blessing.
Those who have been lost at sea will have their names engraved on a memorial plaque, which is mounted next to the harbor office building and is open for viewing year round. For each person that has been lost, attendees will place a flower in a wreath.
The wreath will then be taken out to sea on the Plover ferry and set free to honor all those we have lost on the waters.
After the wreath is released, clergy will bless the boats and crewmembers who will be fishing in Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska this upcoming season.
Because of the generous donations that have been made to the Fisherman’s Memorial Fund over the years, we have been able to offer a $500 scholarship to a Blaine High School senior with roots in the local fishing industry. This year we are only able to do $400. This has been our way of giving back to the community. Our hope is that we will be able to continue in the future.
The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony is usually well attended by members of the public and local and state officials. For the fourth year, Selena Rogers-Pai will perform a song at the Blessing. Rogers-Pai is a graduate from Blaine High School and a past scholarship recipient. The Blaine High School band, led by band director Bob Gray, will perform as well.
The event is free to attend. Following the Blessing ceremony, visit Blaine High School to see “Lost At Sea: Remembering the Victims of the F/V Investor Murders,” a visual exhibit by Alaskan journalist Brittany Retherford honoring eight Blaine sailors lost at sea.