Reflecting on the Conception Boat
By Robert Bernstein
The Conception boat disaster has hit our community hard. So many lives lost at once and so many questions remain.
It was especially jarring for us because we had recently been out on a similar excursion to the Channel Islands on the sister boat Truth. It became even more personal the day after the disaster when I
learned that our galley chef Allie Kurtz was the crew member lost on the Conception.
I had been planning to write a glowing story about the wonders of our excursion and I was still in the process of editing my photos. I would still like to write that story. But for now I would like to focus on Allie and on the memorial.
Here are my photos and videos from the memorial that has been created at Sea Landing as well as from the memorial ceremony on Friday evening at Chase Palm Park.
Family, friends and even strangers have lined the fence at Sea Landing with memories of those who passed. Dive tanks symbolized those who were lost. This one invited comments
and I left a note about Allie
Allie, along with the other young women crew members, had big plans for her life. Being a boat crew member was just a gig for a couple of years before other plans. Allie wanted to be a marine biologist.
Here I have posted my photos from our excursion with people in them.
Starting at image number 1354 you will see Allie's galley crew companion Kelsey getting ready to jump in that cold water from the top of the boat.
After Kelsey jumps, Allie follows. In the next photos you can see Allie posing for me as she shivers from that cold water. If you click on a thumbnail image it will bring up the full image.
And then here is a group photo of all of us on the Truth at the Sea Landing dock:
You can see Allie in black in the middle of the back row. My wife and I are at the rail in front of her.
The memorial Friday evening was organized by the City and County of Santa Barbara and by the Community Wellness Team.
Here is the program of the event.
The lawn was filled with community members who wanted to remember those who were lost and show their support for the loved ones.
Chief Strategy Officer Suzanne Grimmesey of the County of Santa Barbara Behavioral Wellness directed the event.
The event was heartfelt and short, with just a few speakers.
Don Barthelmess is professor of Marine Diving Technology at Santa Barbara City College and he talked of the challenges, dangers and joys faced by divers.
Rabbi Daniel Brenners sounded the shofar horn in a mournful tone that expressed how people were feeling.
Sheriff Bill Brown and other elected officials presented a memorial wreath in a short procession
Local singer and American Idol contestant Jackson Gillies sang "Amazing Grace" as attendees were invited to lay flowers in memory of those who were lost. The flowers had been distributed as we arrived.
I very much appreciated the gathering as it gave me a chance to meet Allie's mother and share stories of Allie. I told her how much we enjoyed her food on the boat and her mother was astonished that Allie had learned to cook! A moment of tears and laughter. One of many.
When I was at the Sea Landing dock I was interviewed by KNBC TV reporter Angie Crouch. On very short notice I was impressed that they were able to use my photos in their broadcast. Ms Crouch very kindly sent me the final video that aired on TV that day:
So many good people are lost every day one at a time for so many senseless reasons. But there is something about so many being lost at once that stirs our human emotions. Especially when those who were lost were in the prime of life with so much yet to give.
This disaster certainly raises so many questions of how this could have happened. In a few days we hope to have a preliminary report available from the investigators. And recommendations for preventing such disasters in the future.
But for now we can remember those who were lost.