LUBEC, Maine — On the day last March when Shelly Tinker’s neighbor Loren Lank drowned when the fishing boat he was piloting in Cobscook Bay sank, the loss hit “just a bit too close to home,” Tinker said. “For the first time in my life, I didn’t even like looking at the ocean.”
As the wife of a Lubec commercial fisherman, Tinker said she began thinking about a fishermen’s memorial.
“I need a place to go,” she said Saturday. “Someplace to sit and think about it all.”
For Lisa Jones, a memorial would provide evidence of her husband’s importance for their 4-year-old daughter.
Joseph Jones and three others also drowned in Cobscook Bay when his urchin dragger, the Bottom Basher, sank in October. Lisa Jones said she begged her husband not to go on the water that day.
“But he told me he had only Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to fish [because of state regulations] and he had to make the truck payment that week,” she said. Joseph Jones’ body has not been recovered.
“My greatest fear is that my daughter won’t remember him,” Lisa Jones said. “But she could go to the memorial and see that he was important, not just to her but to a lot of other people as well.”
Jones, Tinker and Tinker’s sister, Wanda Corey, are working on raising funds for a fishermen’s memorial park in Lubec. They intend to honor not just the local men lost, but also fishermen lost from all over Washington County, Maine, and Charlotte County, New Brunswick, as well as the coastal islands.
After he lost his son Darrell Cline when the Bottom Basher sank two months ago, David Cline approached the town of Lubec about the possibility of a memorial.
“He opened that door and I jumped right through,” said Tinker. A committee was formed, fundraising cans were placed around town, and plans were formulated.
“I was incredibly excited when I heard about the project and I wanted to be able to help, too,” Jones said.
“We are planning on a statue of a woman looking out to sea with a child at her side,” Tinker said. “It could be a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter.”
The granite monument would be placed on a pedestal and surrounded by granite pavers inscribed with the names of lost fishermen. The park will be located at the corner of Water and Commercial streets, at the breakwater.
“It will be right by the working waterfront,” Tinker said.
The project is expected to cost $100,000, with $25,000 just for the statue and the rest for the pedestal, pavers and benches, and the landscaping of the property. The land itself has been donated by the town. The committee also has launched the “silent” phase of its capital campaign, which solicits large donations.
As far as the names that will go on the pavers, the committee is leaving that up to individual families. Each family that wants a name included must submit an application to the committee.
In the Lubec area, seven fishermen have been lost in the past 12 months. But Tinker said no one knows how many have been lost in the past.
“It could easily be thousands,” she said.
The committee is actively looking for the names of those who have been lost, both recently and decades ago.
“We’ve had schooners go down off our coast with hundreds on board,” Tinker said.
The committee also is seeking artists to help with planning, donations of large pieces of granite, and master gardeners who would volunteer with the landscaping plans for the park. But mostly, the women said, they need funds.
“So far, everyone we have approached has been so supportive,” Tinker said. “They really want this to happen.”
Tinker said volunteers have stepped up to transport the granite sculpture, when completed, and do the groundwork at the park.
“We don’t even have to ask,” Corey said. “They come to us.”
“This past year has been an eye-opener for the people of this area. The loss has been just too much,” Jones said.
Corey said the committee hopes to begin construction on the site in the spring.
“We want to have something that when people see it, they can feel our loss, feel what living in a fishing community can truly be like.”
The next meeting of the memorial committee will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, at the Lubec town office.
Donations may be sent to the Lubec town office, 40 School St., Lubec 04652, noting they are for the fishermen’s memorial.