A fisherman goes overboard, swirled away by wind and waves, never to be seen, or a boat slides stern first beneath the surface, dragging its crew with it. Left behind is a fog of grief — memories of what had been and the pain of knowing there's no going forward with that person.
Seattle Fishermen's Memorial, an organization that promotes safety at sea and tries to ease the emotional and financial burdens of bereaved families.For families of fishermen in the North Pacific and Bering Sea fleets, a group that has stepped forward to aid those left behind is the
It provides grief counseling at no charge, and when the son or daughter of a deceased fisherman is ready for college, they can apply for scholarships funded by the memorial.
In fact, no scholarship applicants have been turned away in recent years. In the current 2014–15 school year, 10 students received scholarships at a cost of $186,577. Money for the scholarship fund is raised at the Seattle Fisherman's Memorial dinner. This year, as in the past, it was held at Chinook's restaurant in Fishermen's Terminal, the night before the opening of Pacific Marine Expo.
Sponsors for the dinner include seafood companies, equipment manufacturers, boatyards, banks, insurance companies, law firms, and, yes, National Fisherman. Most of them send representatives to the dinner.
A silent auction of more than 100 items started the dinner. In the mix were 30 pounds of crab ($400 value); a night for four at Seattle's Teatro Zinzanni, a celebration of cirque, comedy and cabaret ($600 value); a photograph of a dory taken in Tenant's Harbor, Maine ($100 value).
A dinner of crab, scallops, shrimp and Alaska king salmon followed, along with a skillet chocolate pecan pie. Then the serious auction got underway.
Seventeen big-ticket items were sold off in a live auction. They included a four-night stay in Maui or Kauai, plus $1,000 air credit that went for $4,100. A salmon barbecue for 50 at the bidder's home or Pacific Fisherman Shipyard sold for $3,600. Wine tasting and appetizers for 30 at Alexandria Nicole Cellars was a steal at $2,800 ($3,200 value).
Another banquet night fundraiser is the "Raise the paddle for Seattle Fishermen's Memorial." As the auctioneer called out levels of financial giving, you held up your bidding card to make a donation. In six minutes, the memorial netted $37,000.
At the end of the night, including donations from sponsors, more scholarship money had been raised then ever before — just over $300,000.
It's money that will be well spent. Michaela Long, one of this year's scholarship recipients and the daughter of Michael Long who was lost on the Aleutian Challenger, wrote Seattle Fishermen's Memorial:
"I am very thankful for this scholarship to help with the costs of school. I like knowing that this is helping my mom in covering the cost of college for me and my three brothers, as we are all in college this year. My dad would be very excited to know that I am continuing my education and that somehow the industry he loved so much was having a part in it."