Emerson Whitney

Blessing Highlights Heartbreak of Those Lost at Sea



Emerson Whitney
Bar Harbor’s harbormaster Charlie Phippen is at the wheel of his boat the Miss B during the blessing of the fleet.

BAR HARBOR — Jeanette Hanscom of Hulls Cove buried her face in her hands at the Bar Harbor Town Pier and sobbed.

She was overcome with emotion at the Seafarers Memorial Service held by the Maine Seacoast Mission as part of the annual blessing of the fleet last Sunday.

Rev. Scott Planting stood aboard the Mission’s boat Sunbeam with the bright sunshine sparkling on the waters of Frenchman Bay behind him. In a somber show of remembrance, he read the names of area mariners lost at sea, one by one. Ms. Hanscom’s son Robert was on that list.

“This is the first time I’ve been to the blessing of the boats and I didn’t know – Oh God,” said Ms. Hanscom as she choked back tears. “It’s been 30 years since he died. I didn’t know they were going to say my boy’s name.”

Ms. Hanscom wiped her face with her sleeve.

“I haven’t cried in so long about Robert. He was only 28 when he died.”

Mr. Hanscom of Hulls Cove was killed while scalloping, struck down by a boom on his boat.

“He was fishing with an awful nice guy, I didn’t know the whole detail of what happened,” she said. “I didn’t want to know. I couldn’t take it, you know?”

Ms. Hanscom said she had recently found it hard to visit the cemetery and think of Robert. She appreciated that the service had unexpectedly brought her closer to the memory of her son.

“I haven’t cried for a long time. It’s been years,” she said. “I guess I really needed to. I’m glad I came.”

So was Bar Harbor resident Alton Pinkham, who recently purchased the L’Nu Sipuk to fish for shrimp and eels out of Bar Harbor. Mr. Pinkham wanted his new boat blessed.

“I want the boat to stay safe, that’s the most important part I guess,” said Mr. Pinkham. “I want to keep me and the crew and the boat safe.”

Gus Skamarycz and his wife Peggy from Massachusetts, stood aboard the Sunbeam to watch the boats parade past Rev. Planting. The captain and crew of each boat received their blessing smiling and waved to the onlookers watching from the dock.

“This means a lot to us,” said Mr. Skamarycz. “It should mean a lot to a lot of people. You have to be thankful for these people and the occupations they have, it’s one of the more dangerous occupations to have.”

Ms. Skamarycz’s grandfather was lost at sea.

“It’s an important thing for us to come to this and recognize all of the people who contribute so much to their families and communities,” she said.

And as Rev. Planting prayed, “May God bless your going out and coming in, may the Lord be with you at home and at the water, may he bring you safely in as you return your boat home to shore. And may he fill your traps abundantly.”

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

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