We met the boat “September AM” in Tahuata a few months ago. Onboard was Barbara and Harry and their two kids Eddie and Amelie. Super sweet and amazing family. Eddie and Amelie are both musicians and are very passionate about sharing their love of music. Eddie was brilliant, compassionate, inquisitive, kind, helpful, and a truly genuine soul.
Several months after we met them, we ran into them in Papeete Marina where I introduced them to my sister. However, we left shortly thereafter to begin the Konis Tour. September AM had decided to move over to Mo’orea for the weekend which is only a short 25nm sail. When they dropped the hook in Oponohu Bay tragedy struck.
Cruisers swim on their anchor – it is a common practice and frankly, an expected one. What does that mean? After you drop the hook, you jump in the water to make sure the anchor is buried and not encumbered by anything (bommies, pipes, etc…). Notably, this helps ensure your boat is secured and safe and protects the environment.
Eddie, a 14-year old son, brother, and crew member of September AM jumped into the water to check their anchor. It is something he has done hundreds of times in dozens of anchorages. He was a mere 2 meters away from the boat when a rented, speeding, motor boat, driven by a distracted tourist ran over Eddie.
One, the tour boat company does not require any special license to rent or drive the boat. Two, the tourist was unfamiliar with boating protocols (you don’t drive that close to anchored boats) or speed in those areas. Three, the driver was not paying attention to the waters, but was chatting with a female companion. In other words, a cataclysmic accident. As a result, the Polynesian government opened a wrongful death investigation 5 days after the accident. Not sure why it took 5 days to open. Hopefully, justice will be served.
Eddie did not survive this accident, but the memory of his beautiful soul will live on forever.
Celebration of Life: Eddie
The family decided to have a celebration of life Polynesian surfer style. What does that mean? People gather on the water, form a circle, hold hands, say prayers, share memories, and the release flowers into the sea. This is called a Polynesian Paddle Out.
There was one small problem. The family was located in Papeete, Tahiti. Cruisers everywhere wanted to celebrate with them. So, we spread the word on Social Media, local media, and SSB nets.
We asked that everyone share photos from their celebration so the family could see the overwhelming show of love and support. It is truly a blessing to see the cruising community come together for those in need.
Photos from Maupiti (where Matt, Yannel, Missy and I) were located
We had a few local ladies from the church say a prayer and sing a beautiful Polynesian song just before releasing the flowers.
Cruisers made floral reefs, floral necklaces, boats, floats, and arrangements. All dedicated during the ceremony.
Papeete had the largest crowd of well over 100 people. Respecting the social distancing and wearing masks.
People held Celebrations at:
- Sandwich Bay, England
- Papeete, French Polynesia
- Mo’orea, French Polynesia (Cook’s Bay and Oponohu Bay)
- Raiatea, French Polynesia (two anchorages)
- Maupiti, French Polynesia
- Huahine, French Polynesia (South and North Bay)
- Taha’a, French Polynesia
- Tahuata, Marquesas, French Polynesia
- Marshall Islands
- Isla San Marcos, Mexico
- San Blas, Guna Yala, Panama
- Bocas, Panama
- United Kingdom
- Malolo Lailai Island, Fiji
- Bay of Virgins, New Zealand
- South Coast France
- Marazion, Cornwall
- New Caldonia
- Liencres, Spain
- Hermosa Beach, California
- San Diego
- San Francisco
In addition to the celebration of life, the family had the casket designed and drawn by a local tattoo artist. – Mana’o Tattoo Studio Tahiti who stepped up at the last minute to create this amazing tribute on his casket. The symbols and designs represent Eddie’s life, dreams, and interests.
Equally important, the family created a Just Giving Page to help raise $15,000 to transport the casket and his body back home to the U.K. The family will use any additional monies to create a fund to help children with education and music. Please contribute.
Together with the support of the local community, their friends and family and the cruising community, the family was able to raise enough money (15,000 euros) to bring Eddie’s body home.
Here Is a link to the video of the TV interview in French Polynesia
Instead of focusing on this horrific accident, we are rejoicing in his life and the fact that the cruising community came together for this family.
Remembering Eddie…after all it is about loving thy neighbor. In the hope that we all can change, be aware, be careful, and respect the water.
This post was written in August 2020. Our blog posts are usually 6 to 7 weeks behind are true adventures.