Maritime events a time to celebrate and remember
By Carol Hogan
Semiahmoo Yacht Club (SYC) officially
kicked off its 25th anniversary with the Blaine Sea Scouts
hoisting the colors at Semiahmoo Marina flagpoles.
After the ceremony, skippers and crew jumped aboard 22 sail and powerboats for a parade in and around Boundary Bay that ended in Drayton Harbor with a sail past and salute to current commodore Jimmy Johnson.
The parade was led by the M/V Plover, oldest passenger foot-ferry in Washington state.
A reception followed at the Semiahmoo Resort hotel activities tent with over 150 members and guests in attendance, including 24 vendors with display booths and many former SYC officers. Among them was founding commodore Stan Hegstrom who explained how the club began.
“We just sort of formed a little group of sailors and power boaters that went over to Sucia or Friday Harbor,” Hegstrom said. “We wanted to go as a group and have fun and instead of a club we called ourselves a yacht club. I’m glad to see us growing from there to here – about 25 members the first time, and this is what it’s grown to now.
We never had an opening day but we had sail pasts in those days. They were always either at the docks or at the entranceway. But this is great.”
“What happened is, the Blaine Marina was just starting and we had our boat up in Captains Cove on the Fraser River,” he said. “It was 30 minutes out to the ocean and two hours back up river. We got the notice that this was a great place to come; great dock and easy sailing and don’t worry about the tides too much.
“For a sail boater it was great, so about 10 of us came down to Captain’s Cove from here. We met up with other people from White Rock and we’d have parties on our boats. We always said we’d form a club.
“I don’t have a boat anymore,” said Hegstrom, who lived in Richmond, B.C. when SYC was formed. He later moved to Sydney, B.C. “I sold my boat in ’92 and took up my golf clubs. That’s my club now.”
As part of SYC’s sponsorship commitment to the Blaine Sea Scouts, door prizes were raffled off at the reception and a total of $328 was raised.
The Blessing of the Fleet
Over 75 people attended an emotional 22nd annual Blessing of the Fishing Fleet at Blaine Harbor last Sunday, with many there remembering loved ones and fellow fishers lost at sea.
The Blaine Sea Scouts conducted the opening flag ceremony. Port of Bellingham commissioner Jim Jorgensen welcomed everyone and a state senate resolution was read by senator Harriet Spanel, 40th legislative district.
The Reverend Brent Brentnall, of Christ Episcopal Church, blessed the boats departing Whatcom County carrying this season’s group of fishers out onto the fishing grounds.
It was followed by the hymn “Eternal Father,” played by Blaine high school music department members.
Mayor pro tem Bonnie Onyon then read a city council resolution which said, in part, the fishers live “between God and sea and are never certain who will claim them first.”
Gary Dunster, captain of the Sigga-Lynn II and a 27-year veteran gillnet and crab fisherman, read the name of each person lost at sea. As he did, Judy Dunster rang a ship’s bell and Jan Hrutfiord placed a fresh rose on a commemorative wreath.
Simultaneously, Blaine harbormaster Pam Taft assembled a carnation bouquet for the Seafarer’s Memorial fronting the Harbor office.
“It’s always very moving to do that,” Dunster said of the name reading. “It’s not very easy to stand up and talk about people you know, and most of those people I knew, especially the most recent ones.
“All the Investor and people on the St. George, I knew them. A lot of them were good friends so that makes it tough. I couldn’t look up; I had to keep looking down.”
A final memorial prayer by Father Vu Tran of St. Anne Catholic Church was followed by more music and a presentation to Blaine harbor office of James Williamson’s painting of the F/V Investor.
Father Tran gave a final benediction and the wreath was then transported to the F/V Destiny, owned by Washington and Alaska crab and salmon fisherman Denny Dohner, who was chosen this year to represent Blaine’s fishing fleet. He took the wreath out to sea.
Only the Washington fishing ports of Seattle and Blaine still conduct these annual blessing ceremonies.