This weekend’s Blessing of the Fleet was saddened by this week’s passing of F/V Seeker crewman Eric Eder who went missing last Wednesday 10 miles northwest of Unimak Passage in the Aleutian Chain. Eric leaves behind a wife and two small children, funds for which are being raise at this website: Click here. Also at Newport Fishermen’s Wives by clicking here.
But as they say, the tradition must go on. The Fishermens Wives Saturday morning conducted a somber memorial service at the Fishermen’s Memorial in Government Park, just west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge where Eric Eder’s F/V Seeker sailed out of, enroute to fishing grounds in the Bering Sea. In addition to Eder’s tragic death, the celebration of life and the honoring of all fishermen who have fallen to the powers of the sea were commemorated and deeply felt and grieved by all.
The survival suit contest launched on time at 9:30am at Port Dock Five with the F/V Excalibur’s Retherford Family providing three strong men to help set the pace. Also participating was Coast Guardsman Gabe Fry and a couple of other guardsmen. Also the Newport High School Leadership Class and the Loyalty Days Court.
Team by team they dove into the waters of Yaquina Bay, a full 20 degrees warmer than water temperatures off Unimak Island earlier in the week. Off they swam toward and into a survival raft – a timed event.
The fastest swimmer was Gabe Fry of the Coast Guard, loading into the survival raft at 38.87 seconds from survival suit-up to feet up out of the water. Team Retherford tallied 47 and a half seconds from suit up to climb-up, and Loyalty Days Princess Christa Henderson managed at 1:12:46 into the survival raft.
The Blessing of the Fleet started later in the day, each ship’s captain fervently hoping that the blessing from the priest aboard a Coast Guard motor lifeboat might help protect them from the power and the deadly majesty of the sea unto which so many sail in the name of their families.