LIVERMORE —Deb Roberts of Wilton, with family and friends, is preparing for the second annual Hollandstrong Fishing Derby on Saturday, Feb. 11, at Round Pond in memory of Roberts’ son, mariner Michael Holland.

Holland, 25, of Wilton, was one of 33 crew members who died aboard the SS El Faro, a cargo ship that sank in the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015, during Hurricane Joaquin.

Holland was a 2008 Jay High School graduate and a 2012 graduate of Maine Maritime Academy.

In advance of the derby, a sale of memorabilia, raffle tickets and baked goods will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, at the Otis Federal Credit Union on Route 4 in Jay. Among the baked goods will be Memere St. Pierre with breads and doughnuts and Linda Chretien with cookies.

All proceeds from the derby and sales go to the Hollandstrong Memorial Scholarship awarded to graduating seniors pursuing post-secondary education in engineering or diesel/automatic mechanics. Seniors from Leavitt Area High School in Turner, Mt. Blue High School in Farmington and Spruce Mountain High School in Jay are eligible.

Roberts said more than $15,000 was raised at the first derby.


The derby and scholarships are ways for Roberts to keep her son’s memory alive.

From early on, Roberts accepted the tragedy as an accident. She is very supportive of education and anything that would come from the transcript released last year from the sinking ship to improve safety for her son’s fellow mariners.

“For me, it has never been about blame,” she said.

When she went to Florida in October 2016 for the first-year anniversary, she and others toured the new cargo ship Isla Bella.

“It was an amazing experience because it just gave us a true sense of what Mike accomplished in the career path he chose in being an engineer,” she said. “It also helped us to understand the size of the ship and what the weather conditions must have been to take down an 800-foot ship. So it really enhanced the pride I feel for my son.”

She took the time to read the entire transcript from the sinking ship so she would have firsthand information.


“There were a couple of things I took away from it,” she said. “The first was the level of professionalism of every crew member throughout the entire ordeal and the teamwork that they all showed as they tried their damnedest to save themselves and the ship. They worked hard. They fought to the very end.”

The outpouring of support for Holland’s family has continued throughout the year.

One of Holland’s mariner friends who lost his father unexpectedly asked for donations to the scholarship in lieu of flowers. Another friend got married this past fall and the bride and groom asked for donations to the scholarship instead of wedding gifts. Most recently, a little girl had a birthday and asked for donations to the scholarship instead of gifts.

It just shows how much Michael meant to everyone, his mother said.

“We will do a toast to Mike at noon,” Roberts said. “We did it last year, too.”


Second annual Hollandstrong Fishing Derby

When: Saturday, Feb. 11. Registration from 5 to 10 a.m. Fish officially measured until 4 p.m. sharp at Yankura’s Shack

Where: Round Pond, Livermore

Why: Benefit Hollandstrong Memorial Scholarship

Food, other sales: Sold at the boat launch all day. Breakfast food, hot dogs, bagged lunches, beverages, raffle tickets and derby memorabilia.



Longest trout for ages 16 and older, $1,200, $600, $400.

Longest fish for ages 15 and younger, $300.

Tagged fish, $500.

Everyone will get a trophy donated by K.J. Awards. Prize winners will be announced via Facebook Live.

FMI: or on Facebook at


Comments are no longer available on this story