A tragedy of the sea
Perhaps the hardest thing in life is to never to have the opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one, when they are accidentally killed. Or worse still, to have your offspring – a son, daughter or grandchild – predecease you.
Seventeen poor souls were killed Thursday morning in a helicopter accident, when their chopper was forced to ditch in the Atlantic Ocean because of what was thought to be a mechanical problem. Only one survivor was plucked from the frigid waters, as the helicopter was on its way to the SeaRose and Hibernia offshore oil platforms.
Immediately, many people began to have flashbacks to the Ocean Ranger disaster when 84 workers were lost in February 1982.
But Newfoundlanders, and in particularly Burin Peninsula residents because of the area’s ties to the deep sea fishery, have known heartache and tragedy for a century or more as they try to eek a living from the sea.
Even to lose a single life, as fishermen try to sustain their families, is a tragedy.
But here on the peninsula, tragedy has struck in large numbers.
Over half a century ago during World War II, two United States naval vessels floundered on the rocks near St. Lawrence and Lawn with the loss of 203 sailors.
Grand Bank and residents of Fortune Bay sailing out of that famed fishing community have had their tragedies with the loss of the Schooner ‘Partanna’ and the stern trawlers ‘Blue Wave’ and ‘Blue Mist’ – the most dramatic ones.
That town now has a Mariners’ Memorial monument displaying the names of hundreds of lost loved ones who went to sea and never returned. An effort was made to make the memorial a provincial one, but the majority of names have ties to this region.
The heartaches of these tragedies never really go away, but everyone who looks to the sea for their livelihood knows and understands these horror stories will continue no matter how many safety measures are implemented.
The wind and the sea are powerful forces. It means the benefits, which can be derived from in and underneath the waters off our shores, are easily replaced with heartaches and death.
May we always remember these men and women left their loved ones not because they wanted to, but because of forces beyond their control.
The Christian community has many hymns about the sea and its relationship with mankind. There is one hymn though that reminds us all ‘God will take care of you’. That remains our strength.