New Bedford Boat Sinking a Holiday Heartbreaker [OPINION]
As I write this, the U.S. Cost Guard continues to search for three men who were lost at sea when the New Bedford-based F/V Leonardo went missing during the storm on Sunday. The Coast Guard says the vessel capsized in nine-foot seas with 29-knot winds gusting to 39 knots. The F/V Leonardo met its fate some 24 nautical miles southwest of Martha's Vineyard or roughly 40 miles from home.
One man was rescued from a liferaft. The three missing men were not believed to be wearing survival suits of lifejackets.
The West Island Weather Station reports: "The 56.6-foot New Bedford scalloper F/V Leonardo is registered to Mary Lou Fishing Corp at 17 Bertrand Way, Acushnet. The 50-ton scalloper was built in 1967, according to Boat Database. The corporation is registered to Luis Martins."
November is a rough month for the New Bedford fishing fleet. According to the website Lost Fishermen From The Port of New Bedford, the F/V Leonardo is the seventh vessel lost to the sea during November since 1919. November weather can be cruel and is often merciless.
New Bedford has sent its sons to sea for hundreds of years as whalers and fishermen. Our brave seafarers have lit and fed the world for many generations. The ocean is so much a part of who we are. There is hardly a family to be found that does not have ties, past or present, to the fishing industry.
The loss of fishermen at sea is heartbreaking at any time of year, but this tragedy at the start of the holiday season is particularly profound. To the families of those lost at sea and anyone connected in any way to the F/V Leonardo, our deepest condolences. As a community, we share your loss and your pain and are here to help you through.
The Fisherman's Tribute Monument stands at Tonnessen Square Park on MacArthur Drive to honor "the “men and women – past, present and future – within the fishing industry, especially those who have lost their lives in pursuit of their profession.” It was dedicated in 2016. If you haven't already visited the monument, you may want to as we prepare to give thanks for all of our blessings this holiday season. The Seaman's Bethel on Johnny Cake Hill is another place worth visiting as we contemplate all of the lives that have been lost at sea over the years.
Please, keep the F/V Leonardo and the missing fishermen and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.