Wives talk of lost husbands after trawler tragedy
ON THE edge of the water at the Bundaberg Port stands a bell.
It is a memorial for Matt Roberts and David Chivers, the same bell that would have been rung on the Cassandra.
On Saturday, more than 100 people gathered to remember the men.
Richard Brown, general manager of Markwell Fisheries which owned the trawler, said the company donated the bell so family, friends and fellow fishermen could have a place to pay their respects.
"One of the hard things in this situation, when you talk about someone lost at sea, is there is no closure," Mr Brown said.
"The idea behind it is to give the family some kind of closure, which I think we achieved - the families were very pleased."
The bell is a symbol of boats and fishing, "a passion for both the boys".
"It's down behind Ocean Pacific Seafoods near where the guys moor down on the wharves there, and they come past it every day."
Markwell staff travelled from the company's base on the Queensland-NSW border for the memorial event, officiated by a close friend of Matt's wife, Ingrid Busk.
"It was very low key, and that's what we wanted - to keep the spirit light," Mr Brown said.
"It's not often everyone gets to gather together, and for the fishing industry to come together; a lot of stories and memories come out.
"It was poignant for all of us, to get a form of closure.
"We're never going to be fully satisfied."
Mr Brown took the opportunity to thank all who took part in the search for the men.
He said friendships had formed in the wake of the tragedy between families and fishermen, providing a valuable network of support for all involved.
David was a gentle giant
THE wife of missing trawler man David Chivers has made peace with the fact he is not coming home six and a half months after his boat sank.
Lyn Chivers recalls, with a smile on her face and holding back the tears, the moments when she met and fell in love with the "gentle giant" eight years ago.
"He was a lovely caring man who would do anything and everything for anyone," she said.
"People knew him as the gentle giant because he was very tall and always helping.
"Dave was very dorky and would do things to annoy you and make you smile at the same time."
David was one of two on board the trawler boat, The Cassandra, when it sank off the coast of Fraser Island on April 4.
A search party including a fixed winged aircraft searched for the vessel for days, but were not able to find the missing men.
Mrs Chivers said her David had a love for boats all his life and no one could keep him off the ocean.
"He would always say 'I'm going to get a land job' but he always returned to the water," she said.
"There were tough times when he missed birthdays and things, but he loved the water and was good at it."
She spoke of the importance of family and how David had taken her three children as his own.
"He was very close to our 15-year-old daughter and it was just lucky he was home to celebrate her birthday this year," Mrs Chivers said.
"It meant so much to all of us to have him home, and there was something special about this year, and it was just before it happened."
The morning of April 4, Mrs Chivers' phone rang early, she hesitated to answer it.
"I only picked it up because I thought it may be Dave," she said.
"We had spoken the night before and our last words were 'I love you and I'll call you in the morning'.
"It was the owner of the boat and was the most devastating news anyone could hear."
Mrs Chivers said the last six months had been a blur and she had only now just began to live again and was at peace now.
"It's made me look at life differently," she said.
"Forgive when you can, don't hold grudges, you never know what words will be your last."
She has accepted there may never be answers to what happened in early hours of the morning of April 4 and continues to wait for the full investigation to be completed.
A memorial for both Dave and Matt has been set up behind Pacific Seafood in Burnett Heads.
Mrs Chivers said it would be a place for her to go and reflect and remember her husband.
Matthew was a practical joker and enjoyed a laugh
"WHEN Richard rang that morning, I said, 'The boat? No. Not the boat'."
When Cheryl Roberts married lifelong fisherman Matthew, she "knew what life was going to be about".
"All through our married life it was all about making our girls independent, because if anything ever happened to me... their dad is a fisherman, away for weeks at a time."
But she never thought anything would happen to Matthew, "because he was just so confident".
She has waited to speak because when the Cassandra off Fraser Island in April, "it was all too raw".
"But we're moving on now."
She described yesterday's memorial as magnificent.
"I was blown away with the tribute and the number of people."
Life was full of laughs for Matt, who was always playing practical jokes on his fellow fishermen, Cheryl said.
"People would ask about slicing the shark fins off, and he'd tell them they swam to the bottom to grow new ones," she said. "And they'd believe him."
Cheryl was full of praise for Markwell Fisheries and everyone who supported the family in their time of need.
"They are just wonderful people.
"And I want to thank everyone who sent flowers, cards, dropped in food; the police who helped with the search; I know people who were on holiday, walking the beaches."
Cheryl says her grandson Caden, who was born just a few weeks after the Cassandra tragedy, "is the one thing that has got us through all this".
"Matthew was a great dad, he loved his girls, and he would have really loved his grandson," she said.
"We wish it didn't happen to us but you have to get on with it.
"If it doesn't take you down, it makes you stronger."