Tony Ganacias introduced his son to the sea when he was working at a cannery near Cold Bay in Alaska, and bought him his first boat at age 17. That was it, Ganacias said. From then on for Arthur it was nothing but boats and fishing and cars, including his beloved 1971 Dodge Charger.
On Saturday afternoon, Arthur Ganacias, known to most everyone as “Art,” was remembered by his father and other family and friends just a little more than a month after he and four other crew were lost when the Scandies Rose went down in 20-foot seas in the Gulf of Alaska. Ganacias, 50, was the boat’s engineer.
Two other crewmen survived the New Year’s Eve sinking of the 130-foot boat, managed out of Seattle, that left the port of Kodiak and was headed out to the Bering Sea to begin winter harvests of cod and then crab.
Why the boat sank is under investigation.
The Scandies Rose was a warhorse of a crabber, with many years at sea. Her motto was “Whatever It Takes.” At the Rainier Yacht Club in Seattle on Lake Washington, Ganacias was celebrated as the kind of crew member who made everyone else aboard feel safe.
For Ganacias, it was at least the second time he had been on a boat that went down at sea, and Tony Ganacias, 88, of Kent, said he still can’t believe his son is really gone. “I begged him to find another job,” his father said. “But he likes to be in the ocean. Ever since he was a kid.”
Ganacias grew up in the Sand Point community of Alaska and frequently visited family in the Seattle area, including his father, whom he recently helped through a long illness.
“He never married, he didn’t like the responsibility. He loved the ocean. He was married to the ocean,” Arthur’s father said.
But he had so many friends: More than 150 people filled the Yacht Club to remember the man they called Art. His favorite bartender flew all the way from Anchorage to be there. She remembered how Ganacias would call her on the satellite phone to plead with her to stay open as he was coming back into port, to set up his favorite Budweiser, served in a can, not a glass, and shots of Crown Royal.
A memory table included a bottle of Crown Royal with plastic shot glasses for anyone to partake. There were many pictures too, posted in a fishing net hung on the wall, of Ganacias doing what he loved: fishing for salmon and crab. And of course, of the Charger.
Tables were decorated with black tablecloths and white candles, tied with twine in sailor’s knots and decorated at the base with a scattering of sea glass. There were white roses and fragrant white stock at the speaker’s podium. The buffet was loaded with food meant to comfort: macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, Chinese food in big steaming pans, and hot dogs cut up and basted in barbecue sauce.
Because he survived a sinking once before, it is all the harder to accept that Ganacias is gone now, said his aunt, Alicia Fadul of Seattle. “I would not like to give up, believe that he is gone, there might still be a chance. I keep thinking someone will say, ‘oh I saw him,’ I just pray,” she said.
Geoff Gavino, Ganacias’ cousin, said in life, Ganacias did things the way he wanted to do them. “Fishing and fast cars, that was it.”
As the years went on, Gavino, who works for a Kent composites company, said he worried less about Ganacias, even forgot how dangerous his work was. “It seemed to feel safer. It’s one of those things, where you just never know. I thought he was past that, the risk.”
He pictures Ganacias in his last moments.
“I imagine he went out strong, his eyes open, saying ‘This is what I did for a living, I loved it.’ ”
One of the photos passed out Saturday was of buoys that will be sunk with a heavy chain in the water with the Scandies Rose on Sunday. The buoys carry the names of the crew members lost and a simple blessing: R.I.P.