Lost at Sea memorial installed at John's Pass Village

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 7:28 AM EDT

For the first time, families of Bay area fishermen who were lost at sea have a permanent memorial that honors their loved ones.

The memorial was installed Monday at John's Pass Village in Madeira Beach.

A memorial that has been sorely needed, according to Capt. Mark Hubbard.

"There's no representation for the fishermen in the central-west Florida," he said. "They have a great beautiful one up in Destin and they have one down in the Keys. They have one on the East Coast, but there's no representation here."

The 6-foot-tall sculpture called The Hand of Fate depicts a hand rising out of a giant wave that cradles a fishing boat. The statue was placed on top of a 5-foot-tall base in front of the boardwalk.

"I'm very excited," Hubbard said. "This has been a five-year project, and we never dreamed that it would take this long."

Hubbard said the Lost at Sea Memorial cost $50,000 to build.

Shirley Costello led the fundraising efforts after her son, Michael Costello, 29, was lost at sea in the Gulf of Mexico during a commercial fishing trip on Feb. 27, 2005.

"I just want to thank everybody, everybody that helped raise the money," Costello said. "Oh my God, and it's perfect. The hand of fate, and we've lost so many in storms."

Sculptor Robert Epstien said he got the idea of what kind of wave and boat to depict by talking to commercial fishermen at John's Pass Village.

"Waves bounce off each other and off of the coasts in many directions, come together and crest in peaks like this," Epstien said. "Even though I spent a lot of hours alone on it, I didn't do it by myself. This is a work of community."

The Florida Fishermen Lost at Sea Memorial has been a joint effort between the John's Pass Village and Boardwalk Merchant's Association, the Outdoor Arts Foundation, the City of Madeira Beach and Hubbard's Marina, according to a press release.

The memorial will be covered until the official unveiling Sunday at 6 p.m.    

"They all need recognition; they all need to be remembered, and this is the perfect place for anybody to come to," Costello said. "The majority of boats go in and out of here."