Members of the Portland fishing community gathered on the city’s waterfront Wednesday night to remember and honor the four Maine men who were lost at sea when the Emmy Rose sank off Cape Cod in early Monday.
Candlelight vigils were held at the Maine State Pier and the Portland Fish Pier, with roughly 100 people talking about the men, their lives and their commitment to fishing between the two venues.
At the Maine State Pier, family and friends placed candles around an impromptu memorial that said, “Family is the anchor that will get us through the storms of life.” Candles were placed on the Portland pier in front of the Fishermen’s Memorial, which reads, “In memory of those lost at sea”.
The 82-meter Emmy Rose in Portland sank in early Monday, about 22 miles northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where 30 knots of wind whipped the 6-8-meter waves.
The Coast Guard suspended the search for the ship on Tuesday night.
“I know I have to keep going for it,” said Reyann Matthews, the Portland daughter of one of the lost crew, Jeff Matthews. He organized the vigil at the Maine State Pier. “They were all great people. They didn’t deserve to go out like this.
According to Matthews, his father was 55 years old and had been fishing for about 40 years. He wants to be remembered as a kind and loving father. – He’s been fishing since I was a baby. He loved it very much. He couldn’t take it off the water.
The ship’s captain, Bobby Blethen, as well as crew members, Michael Porper and Ethan Ward, were also lost at sea.
As the news of the tragedy spread, the New England fishing community responded to the pain families felt during the holiday season.
The daughter of Rosalee Varian, owner of Emmy Rose, Rink Varian, attended the vigil at Maine State Pier and said she set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe. According to him, the revenue is distributed in four ways to cover the financial needs of each member of the crew. By Wednesday night, the campaign had raised more than $ 22,000.
The GoFundMe page also includes a slideshow of crew members spending time with their family members and children.
Another group, the Sustainable Harvest Sector, which represents 100 land-based fishing vessel owners and operators from New England ports, lamented the loss of fishermen and praised the Coast Guard for their efforts.
“On November 23, in the early hours, the Emmy Rose fishing boat was founded on Cape Cod, 20 miles northeast of Provincetown. The reason is unknown. Four brave seas have been lost, ”the sustainable harvest sector said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Coast Guard was looking for 38 straight hours in an area of about 2,066 square miles. We thank the Coast Guard for its quick response to the victim and tireless efforts to rescue the fishermen. You are heroic.
The group said it plans to publish news about the fishermen’s monuments as soon as those plans become available.
The Coast Guard found only debris and an empty life raft on Monday after responding to the ship’s emergency, signaling the radio. Officials suspended the search for the crew on Tuesday night. The Emmy Rose was headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts when she sank.
In the hours following the Coast Guard’s announcement, industry colleagues and friends launched fundraisers to support families who are now hurting their loved ones. These people all rated the crew as honorable fishermen, fathers, sons, and friends who cared deeply about their families.
“They were all extremely passionate about the fishing industry, but most importantly, they loved and cared for their families more than anything in the world,” said one GoFundMe site. “Robert, Jeff, Ethan, and Mike rested in peace, knowing that their loved ones would receive the support they deserved. These four families lost a husband, father, son, grandson, brother, and nephew just before the holidays. These families need all the love and support that our community can give. “
Alan Tracy, a supplier to the Portland fishing industry and president of Vessel Services, said the crew was experienced and the Emmy Rose was a well-known boat at the Portland fish pier. Blethen, the captain’s reputation, was “very capable” and has a long history in the local fishing industry.
The crew laid ice from Vessel Services on Wednesday and set out from Portland on Thursday for a multi-day trip to catch groundfish such as haddock, pollack and redfish. According to Tracy, fishermen who spend days at sea at the same time have a particular commitment and culture.
“Some of these guys come and go,” he said. “These were all fishermen who were all very involved in Portland fishing.”
Vessel Services is one of those who raise money for men’s partners and children. Tracy plans to split the donations between the four families before Christmas.
“These were relatively young men in the early 40s, 30s and 20s,” he said. “Many of them have young children, girlfriends, and wives who really rely on them in their travels. It’s literally a lot of per-trip economy. “
Family members and friends did not respond to messages via social media and GoFundMe on Wednesday. But the messages on each fundraising site were about their heartache and gave a glimpse into the lives of the four men.
On one side was a black-and-white photo of Porper smiling with a young woman and another shot of the two of them with their daughter. Another described Ward as “a hard worker, a loving father, a devoted friend, an honest friend, and a man any family member can be proud of”.
“He forced himself to be better and walk better for his family, though he didn’t realize how much we all loved and cherished him just as he was,” Ward’s side said. “He was the type of friend he could go to for months without seeing or talking to him, but the moment he saw him, he continued where he left off.
One person who contributed to Ward’s campaign wrote, “The ocean is a ruthless place and you need a strong man to be a fisherman. I thank all the men who gave their lives so people had food on their plates and their bellies were never empty. Thank you for all you have done for our community. “
On the third page, it was written that Matthews thought what he loved. His daughter, Reyann Matthews, told a friend a statement: “This world has lost not just a beloved father, but a family man and a legendary fisherman. He left a mark on these waters and a memory on these docks that will never fade. So many will miss you.
The tragedy was constantly on his mind and in the conversation of many at the Portland fish pier this week.
“He could see a few other crews and ships and see that it weighed on them, not just because they had personal connections with these guys and a close relationship with each other, but to acknowledge that it could happen to anyone at any time,” Tracy said.
Marshall Alexander, a longtime fisherman, said it was a difficult year for fishermen in southern Maine. He recalled when Hayley Ann sank 50 miles southeast of Portland on Jan. 24 and claimed Arnold “Joe” Nickerson IV, a 60-year-old captain from Arundel and a 44-year-old crew member, Boothbay Harbor Christopher Pinkham.
“It’s very hard when these things happen, okay,” Alexander said (74). – You know, we’re all interested in anglers.
Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fisheries Association, said many in the coming days and weeks focused on supporting families. Their loss comes when the basic fishing market hurts because of the pandemic, he said.
“I think everyone has tried to put it together one by one, and there’s not much movement in the profession in finance,” Martens said. “Anyone who can support these families, I encourage them.”
The association has also been working with the Maine Chapter of the National Mental Mental Illness since the sinking of Hayley Ann, publishing blog posts on wellness and mental health. Greg Marley, clinical director of NAMI Maine, wrote Wednesday about the complex emotions associated with these losses, urging family and friends to take the time to process the grief. He also encouraged members of the fishing community to seek support if needed.
“While not everyone in the fishing community may know the four crew members of the Emmy Rose, everyone can imagine the loss,” he wrote. “There are periods in high-risk jobs where risk can shift behind your mind. However, when such a loss is experienced, we are reminded that there is always a risk in everyday work. “
The Emmy Rose’s federal fishing license is held by the vessel Aaron & Melissa Inc., based in Westbrook. Documents filed with the Secretary of State in Maine appoint Bartley McNeel of Westbrook as president of the company.
The Aaron & Melissa ship was also owned by Aaron & Melissa II, which died in November 2018 70 miles south-southeast of Portland during a stormy storm. All four crew members left the ship, entered an inflatable raft, and were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.
McNeel did not respond to journalists’ emails.
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