Some might recall my posting more than two months ago that my father was suffering from an inoperable form of cancer…well time and tide wait for no man and today, my captain cast off his last line to go to wherever our maker orders us when our time tied up alongside on Earth ends and we must depart on that last and final voyage…
To any of those here who may have sailed with Captain Mario on the tugs or fishing fleet out on the West Coast or up north in Alaska, you know what I mean when I say he was cut from a stronger sail cloth you cannot find anywhere anymore. With his passing, one of the old guard mariners who could endure far more hardship at sea than the likes of any of us can barely even begin to contemplate is now gone. He was, still is, and forever more will remain my great hero and if I can be even half the master he was in my seafaring life, I will consider that a great victory to have achieved.
He was a teacher and I was able to sail as his mate in the early days after earning my license and not too many years afterwards as his relief. He and I shared many of the same good and bad experiences and but for the Grace of God managed to not face the horrors of a tragedy at sea. We both commanded the crab processor GALAXY in the years before she burned and both of us realized afterwards the potential that what happened to the vessel in October 2002 could just as easily happened to either of us in far worse circumstances. After the GALAXY was lost with three persons, I know we each became far more aware of the good fortune that smiled on us and those who sailed under our care on that ship. We both became terribly aware that had that fire happened in worse weather in the dark hours of the morning, how the tragedy could very easily meant the loss of all souls aboard. There is the hand of fate in our profession and we always should make our ships as safe as they can possibly be and always be ready for the worst to occur…such is the duty of a master. Neither he nor I really prepared the GALAXY to be truly ready but it was not ordained that either he or I to be the ones tested…that test fell on another man to face and we read of the horrors of that fire realizing what a fine job he did and wondering how well either of us would have performed had it been our test to pass or fail? We each were truly fortunate to have dodged that bullet and suddenly in late 2002 we both discovered how lucky we were.
Take care of all those you love and make sure you tell them you love them every opportunity you can especially your parents should you still have them… you may not have the chance to say it tomorrow. Nothing will ever stop the sad reality that there will someday be the need for there to be a goodbye. If there are disappointments, you should try as hard as you can to look past them because one day they are just not there anymore to try to heal any old wounds.
I may be gone for a few days now, as I must attend to my mom in her grief…my parents’ marriage lasted 54 years, but the love between them will last for eternity…She is devastated and all her sons are gathering tomorrow for her. I am the oldest and now have become the patriarch to continue his legacy.
In the meantime, God bless my departed dad and all his unwashed brothers of the sea…we are all brothers together after all.