Editor’s Log: Candle In The Window - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Candle In The Window

If I learned anything at all in September, it’s to cherish those moments with loved ones, and to never take life for granted.

On Thursday, September 14, an off duty U.S. Merchant Marine from Brick Township took his two adult sons out for a quick hitter at the Seaside Lump aboard their 31-foot Aquasport.  While returning through Manasquan Inlet a little after dark, the boat was broadsided by a 10-foot “clean up” wave just outside the inlet.  The father and his eldest son were soon rescued not far from the fisherman’s memorial at Point Pleasant Beach, with a desperate search soon underway for the missing 21-year-old.

The father was supposed to redeploy again on Monday the 18th, standing at the helm of those large ships that travel the globe.  Typically gone for weeks and months at a time sailing overseas, he would return home ever so briefly to spend as many precious moments with his wife and boys before shoving off again to ports unknown.  It’s a heart-wrenching ordeal, one which easily brings a tear to the eye of any fisherman, commercial or recreational.

By now you’re probably aware of what transpired between the passing of Hurricane Lee and the arriving remnants from tropical storm Ophelia the week after.  It was a tragedy that deeply affected everyone in the New Jersey fishing community, but even more so in my tight-knit Midstreams community of Brick.  I know the family; they’re friends, our boats kept not far from one another on Beaver Dam Creek.  Joining others for a prayer at their empty slip that Saturday after the tragedy I felt completely helpless, with a sick, emptiness in my gut.  It also made me think of the special moments fishing with my own father, and particularly those times we opted to do so in weather not fit for man nor beast.

As a writer by trade, I scrambled to find quotes to help non-fishing friends better understand this connection we have to the water; the Dutch artist Van Gogh, known for his impressionist paintings of Mediterranean fishing villages, may have put it best when he said, “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.

Nine days after the wreck, the young man’s body was found along the Manasquan near Channel Drive in Point Pleasant Beach.  Waves from Hurricane Lee had taken him, the surge from Ophelia ultimately sending him home. For that week in between, our neighborhood hung lanterns outside our homes each night, hoping to light the way for this son’s return.  It was a small gesture that spread far and wide, with photos shared on social media from lighted candles and lanterns from as far away as Hawaii.  Those who fish can appreciate that solidarity in our community, but for this small Jersey Shore neighborhood of fishing addicts, that bond seemed only to grow stronger.

After giving thanks to God for allowing the sea to carry this fine young man home, we kept the home fires burning outside for another week, a show of love and support for our friends and neighbors in their time of grief.  This continued until the northeast winds of Ophelia subsided, and fair winds were again blowing upon our shores, this son of Midstreams forever in our hearts.

Fair winds and following seas,

May forever you feel, upon your cheek, the salty breeze.

Your spirit lives on in many a heart,

Your words captured, and never to depart.

May your loved ones have the comfort in knowing,

To heaven is where you are going.

For all that they have to do is look above,

And they will be reminded of your love.

                                                                          – Unknown

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