by the Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director
More than 100 friends joined the Seamen's Church Institute (SCI) on October 6 for a beautiful sunset dinner cruise past the Golden Gate Bridge to raise funds for our ministry to seafarers. Earlier intermittent rain gave us a scare, but the clouds parted as guests arrived, and even the US Navy Blue Angels—in town for Fleet Week—streaked around the skies, providing what we claimed as a thrilling sendoff.
Among our guests, USCG Captain of the Port Cynthia L. Stowe provided greetings and a brief sense of the Coast Guard’s difficult search-and-rescue work in the challenging Bay Area waters. Six pilots from the San Francisco Bar Pilots joined us with their guests, sharing anecdotes about their unique work with every inbound and outbound ship. The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe represented the Episcopal Diocese of California to offer our dinner invocation.
Special thanks go to Hornblower Cruises & Events for providing the California Hornblower vessel for the dinner trip. The awesome shoreline sites—capped of course by the Golden Gate Bridge—provided beautiful inspiration to our evening. Silent and live auctions added a buzz while raising necessary funds for SCI's daily mission. (Yours truly even won a Bay Area Harley ride with the Rev. Roger Bauer, a multi-talented man who serves as port chaplain, avid cyclist and leader of the band that entertained us on the evening.)
I am delighted by SCI’s growing presence in the Bay Area that includes deepening relationships with the Port of Oakland, Bar Pilots and USCG. Importantly, we also are connecting with regional churches that provide the volunteers so crucial to our hospitality with seafarers. Our evening cruise strengthened old relationships while forging new.
The day before our cruise, SCI Director of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights Douglas B. Stevenson and I led an afternoon seminar with the San Francisco Bar Pilots, giving back to them in thanks for their ongoing support of our work. Since pilots are the first to welcome every ship into port, our rich engagement strengthened their understanding of shore leave access issues, occasional ship abandonment cases, the pending Maritime Labour Convention and the ongoing challenge of piracy.
Thanks to our cruise event volunteers and financial supporters (and, yes, even the Blue Angels) for a memorable week.