On the Waterfront
By Jan Hrutfiord
It is time for the annual (25 plus years) Blessing of the Fleet, which will be here at Blaine Harbor’s sawtooth dock next Sunday, May 2. This event has much significance for many in the fishing community. The fishing boats which go out from our harbor face many dangers over the years, including inclement weather, accidents and illness when there is no doctor there to help, and great distances to be traveled to get to the fishing grounds.
This non-denominational blessing for our fleet and for the fishers involved are to help protect them during the next year’s fishing seasons. There will be one boat selected to represent the fleet for the year, with a banner to place in the rigging that reminds others that this is the representative vessel.
The reading of the names of those who were lost at sea over the last hundred years keeps the memories of those fishers in our hearts and minds. Many of them do not have another grave site, and this is their Memorial Day.
We also want to honor those local fishers or fishing businesspersons who have died in the last year since the last Blessing of the Fleet. This group of fishers, who died on land, spent much of their lives in the fishing industry. They leave a large gap in the collective history of our fishing fleet. During the past year I have tried to remember these men in my columns. There are several whom I haven’t yet mentioned. They include:
Larry Sand, 75, who died on November 25, 2003. He was a long time fisher out of Blaine and Alaska. He and his wife Edith raised four children, and their son Eric is still a commercial fisherman from Blaine.
Eric Cederlund, 41, died February 20, 2004, at his home in Blaine. He worked in the fishing industry most of his adult life. He left his mother, three sisters and a brother to mourn his loss.
Dean Croft, 76, died April 17, 2004. Dean was a fisherman for many years, in the early years fishing on the dragger Dakota in Washington and Alaskan waters. He loved fishing, and was a fun-loving prankster who leaves many relatives and friends behind.
Others include Bud Dodd, LeRoy Green, Ron Walsh and Dick Markusen.
These fishers are just a part of the many who fished out of Blaine Harbor. There will be flowers placed on a wreath to commemorate each fisher who died this past year. If you know of any others who should be remembered, be sure and speak up at the time of the memorial service. All who want to remember one of their own are welcome to place flowers in the wreath in their memory.
There will be music from the Blaine high music department, refreshments, and time to visit and share many stories. It all starts at 1 p.m., May 2. You are all invited to attend. Hope to see you there!
While you’re down at the docks, look into the Seafarers Memorial building. There have been some changes, fresh paint and other projects planned to bring it up to date. Watch for more improvements over the summer months.
Crab fishing ended April 15, so most local boats are either tied up waiting for the next season, or fishing for bottom fish locally or in Alaska. Salmon season starts in southeast Alaska soon, with Bristol Bay fishing in June and July. The large draggers are fishing for cod and sole in Alaskan waters, as well as off the coast of Washington.