My brother died a year earlier. We decided to hold a one-year remembrance for him in this way. Family members came from Europe and The west coast to participate. Our boating friends were happy to help.The weather was perfect with light waves less than a foot as we headed out onto the lake in our motorboat. We played a selection of music and welcomed everyone to write private prayers to place in the basket of the boat along with several photos and mementos.
Under way, a seven jet formation of the Blue Angels, the US Navy jet performance demonstration team, just happened to fly In front of our bow as we motored out to the deep waters of the Great Lake. Less than 300 meters above us, perhaps a kilometer in front of us. The best I can figure, looking at their show schedule, they were flying from one air show location to the next.
The coincidental timing of the fly by was astounding. Why they were in formation, and so low? Perhaps they decided to give us a “show”. A minute timing difference one way or the other and we would not have crossed paths so closely, so dramatically. They were as modern day Valkyries. It was truly amazing! We were listening to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” at the time.
When we reach the memorial location, we launched the Viking boat, setting it afire, said prayers, read poems, read a code of “what it means to be a Viking”, listened to Wagner’s “Siegfried’s Funeral March” Followed by “I Vow to Thee”, as performed at Churchill‘s funeral.
We followed the recommendation of using two bricks as ballast for the boat. Kindling was placed at the bottom of the the hull. Larger, 5 cm cubes of hickory fueled the burn. We used the small wood chunks to avoid any dangerous floating debris the larger wood logs could have created. A little bit of lighter fluid helped start the combustion. The ship burned for about half an hour, down to the waterline, and the boat sank out of sight as the water flooded the hull. Thank you for constructing such a “seaworthy” boat.
We played continued with the music on the way back to harbor, including Pink Floyd‘s “Wish You Were Here“ and Bob Marley’s “Three little Birds”.
The coat of arms on the mast has special significance to my bother and me. He had a tattoo of it on his right bicep.
Thank you for helping us fulfill my brother’s last wishes. All who witnessed and participated in the farewell were moved by this most special ceremony. Even the most seasoned boaters said this tribute was unique and exceptional, just as my brother wanted.