Eric  Hawkes


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Coffs Harbor, NSW Australia - Eric A. Hawkes, 69, died of cancer Wed., May 1, at his home in Coff's Harbor, Australia, with his wife and children at his side.
Eric's brush with death began 54 years ago as a sophomore at Gloucester High School. In mid-winter of 1965, Eric was surfing during a Northeast snowstorm when he was separated from his surfboard at Brace Cove, Gloucester. Swept out beyond the breakers, Eric was eventually rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.
Bored with conventional academics, Eric left high school to pursue a career in commercial fishing, working mostly out of Gloucester. While fishing for the deep-sea lobster boat 'Lucky Me," Eric received a head injury, requiring a 100-mile helicopter ride to Mass. General Hospital. This injury had lasting ramifications, resulting in a permanent limp.
Despite his accident, Eric continued to pursue his love of the sea. In late spring of 1976, Eric and his brother sailed the sloop "Debbie" from Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, to Gloucester, and despite high winds off the coast of Ireland and engine failure, they had a fast, uneventful crossing. The following year while sailing to the Caribbean, Eric, with friends Jack Alexander and Donnie Steele, ran into a strong winter storm causing the windward spreader to disengage. To avoid dismasting, they kept on the same tack until Eric climbed the mast to make the necessary repair.
After meeting his future Australian wife while visiting Tobago, West Indies, the two eventually sailed their 40-foot boat from Gloucester to Australia, confronting and overcoming every possible challenge, including sickness, the doldrums and high winds, resulting in a dismasting that required another week-long, in-water repair and celestial navigation due to a lost navigational system. However, they made it to Tahiti, low on food and drinking water and 60 days overdue, eventually making it to Australia but not without first marrying in a village ceremony in Aitutaki of the Cook Islands.
Eric spent the rest of his life in Australia. After some false starts with farming, he opened an ice cream shop in Coff's Harbor Australia that continues to thrive. Eric and Debbie have two children, Zara and Adam, who both share Eric's love of the sea. Australia provided Eric with long deserted beaches, natural beauty, and 365-day access to the ocean. Australia was Eric's home. Other interests included indigenous canoe racing, long-distance swim club, playing the didgeridoo (an aboriginal musical instrument), spear fishing, and a cycling trip through the French Alps with his friends from the CCB Cycling Club.
Eric was born in Boston, Mass., on Feb. 26, 1950, and grew up in Magnolia. He was the son of the late Bill and Jean Hawkes of Rockport, Mass., and is survived by his wife Debbie Hawkes of Coff's Harbor; two children, Zara Hawkes of Coff's Harbor, and Adam Hawkes and his partner Sarah and their son Henry of Newcastle, Australia; a brother, Brett and his wife Pamela of Rockport; a sister, Dale Seamans and her husband Campbell of Salem, Mass; a sister, Dana Hawkes of Gloucester; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by brother-in-law, Jerry Weist.
In lieu of flowers, Eric would like his friends to pour their preferred drink and toast those who love the sea.
Published on May 8, 2019
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7 posts

Ian Grigg Canberra Australia
Jun 13, 2019
Eric Hawks life straddled two great continents. What a success you made of it. Eric became a great asset to Australia. Nurtured a beautiful family -assimilated quickly into the Australian way of life and established a very successful business. You cannot do better than that..Eric my friend – I know you are sailing the high seas somewhere .I know also you will reach your destination. You never fail. It was a great privilege to have you as our valued family member. Vale good friend.
Stephanie Strenz -Jenkins
May 15, 2019
I admired his sense of adventure ,curiosity,and his strength.Rip dear soul
John B Love
May 14, 2019
I visited Eric after his "Lucky Me" accident at MGH in Boston. He told me, he came to and tried to walk out of the hospital. That was Eric- nothing could keep him down for his next adventure. He lived more lifetimes than twenty men. I shall always remember his spirit upon the Atlantic waiting for the next giant set at Brace's Cove.
Sharon Love Cook
May 11, 2019
What a life Eric lived, although I'm not surprised. So many people would love to take off across the globe, destination Australia, but the longing remains a dream. Eric truly lived the dream. He was an original in a world of cookie-cutter people.
Peter and Nadia Thorburn
May 08, 2019
a privilege to know you all these years since you sailed in to our lives on Sydney Harbour with Deb.
So sad to hear of your sudden passing mate .
bon voyage till we meet again
Melissa Smith Abbott
May 08, 2019
Larger than life, an old friend, adventurous, brave, and strong with a sense of humor and offbeat personality. What a loss. Charlie and I are so sad. So lucky we got to see him last summer when he visited Dana at Rocky Neck. Much love on your journey Eric and many condolences to his brother Brett, sisters, Deb, children and his many friends and family who knew him and loved him. What a ride he had! Always think of him in that convertible he had in the 70’s! We used to call him Birdman back in the day ❤️
Poochie Merchant
May 08, 2019
I am devastated beyond words. You were 'fine as kind'-- the finest kind. None other like you.