By Gary Dunster
As local fishermen prepare for the upcoming season, Blaine’s annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafarers Memorial acts as a reminder that safety is of the upmost importance. It is a time for all of us to remember the fishermen we have lost at sea and at home.
The memorial service will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 7 at the Blaine Boating Center, located at 235 Marine Drive. The event is hosted by the Fisherman’s Memorial Committee in conjunction with the Blaine Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Bellingham.
This year, organizers will ring a bell 40 times in honor of those who lost their lives at sea dating back to the early 1900s. Fifteen taps on the bell will signify the number of individuals from Blaine’s boating community who passed away at home since last year’s memorial.
Each time a name is read aloud during the memorial service, the bell will ring and a family member or friend will place a flower in a wreath. At the end of the service, Captain Richard Sturgill will take the wreath out on the historic Plover ferry and place it in the water.
Selena Rogers-Pai and Malie Laolagi will perform a vocal duet. Blaine High School band director Bob Gray and some of his students will also perform, just as they have since the early 1990s. Port commissioner Bobby Briscoe and Blaine harbormaster Andy Peterson will represent the Port of Bellingham during the memorial service.
For the last five years, the Fisherman’s Memorial Committee has been able to offer a $500 scholarship to a Blaine High School senior, using the monies that have been donated to the fisherman’s memorial over the years. This year we weren’t able to do so but we are hopeful we will be able to continue the scholarship program in the near future.
On behalf of the Fisherman’s Memorial Committee, I would like to thank the Blaine community for your continued support of the Blessing of the fleet.
We look forward to seeing you on May 7.