Porch lights to shine in remembrance of Miss Ally tragedy

Miss Ally and crew were lost on Feb. 17

Published on February 15, 2014

The Woods Harbour memorial to the lost fishermen from the Miss Ally tragedy.

Kathy Johnson photo

By Amy Woolvett

Many homes across Shelburne County will have a front porch light on for the next few days as a respectful remembrance of the fishermen who were lost a year ago on the Miss Ally.

It has been a year of much sadness.

At this time last year, news of that the Miss Ally and her crew were in trouble pitched an entire community into a rollercoaster of emotions.  Worry turned into fear and hope faded quickly into grief.

Five fishermen were lost at sea on Feb. 17, 2013; captain Katlin Nickerson, Joel Hopkins, Tyson Townsend, Billy Jack Hatfield and Steven Cole Nickerson.

No one was hit harder by the loss than the family, friends and loved ones in their western Shelburne County hometowns.

As the first year anniversary approached in the small community of Woods Harbour, the pastor of the local Calvary Baptist Church said they would pray for continued comfort and peace for family and friends of the boys.

“The first year is the most difficult…the most challenging,” said Pastor Phil Williams.  “It’s a year full of firsts without their loved ones…first birthday, first Christmas.”

He said that while the church was to hold a prayer over the Sunday service and touch on the one-year anniversary, there was no special service planned. People will remember the tragedy in their own ways.

Community members often visit the Woods Harbour memorial to the Miss Ally and her crew to remember those who were lost.

Pastor Williams said there are reminders of the five men throughout the area.

Along the trail that winds through the village, five benches are each carved with a name of the crew of Miss Ally and serve as a reminder in loving memory.

Pastor Williams was proud of the community he lives in for the strength and support they have shown over the past year, rallying together with prayers and thoughtfulness.

“Wood’s Harbour is one incredibly tight-knit community,” he said.  “This community has a way of helping each other…we all experience loss but other communities are at a loss for the kind of community we have.”

He said the one-year anniversary would not be commemorated publicly.

“We are always reminded of them,” he said.

On the weekend, people on social media were quickly sharing a request to keep their front porch lights on between Feb. 16-18 in a respectful show of remembrance. During the search last year, many people left their lights on in the symbolic hope that the fishermen would find their way home. The beacon at the Seal Island Lighthouse was also lit.