Annual Blessing Of The Fleet Celebrates Chatham's Fishing Families

By: Kat Szmit

Topics: Commercial fishing and shellfishing , Churches and Faith

Kate Liska and Shannon Eldredge give a Sumo-style hug to Karen Murdoch.  KAT SZMIT PHOTO

CHATHAM The Chatham Fish Pier is always a busy place, but this past Saturday it was lively for a reason other than the unloading of the day's catch. On this day, the Rev. Brian McGurk dipped a sprig of evergreen into consecrated water from the sea and blessed the boats, families, and the waters of Chatham's fishing community as part of the annual Blessing of the Fleet

The interfaith service was the prelude to a day of celebration that was a heartfelt mix of remembering those who have passed on and setting sights on a successful 2017 season. This year to honor members of the fishing family that have passed, friends and family members were invited to toss carnations into the water while Sarah Marchio played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

See a gallery of photos here.

Brooke Linnell and Eliza Fitzgerald sang lovely versions of “Parting Glass” and “Hallelujah,” while The Clancy Family offered a soulful performance of their own and Shareen Davis shared some fish tales.

The women who comprise the event host organization, Women of Fishing Families, including Karen Murdoch, Kate Liska, Becki Lucarelli, Rachel McGrath, Linda Kelly, and Shannon Eldredge, read a special poem in tribute to WOFF member Alison Barabe, who died unexpectedly last year.

Scholarships were then presented to Brooke Linnell (Nauset), Megan Woods (Cape Tech), Peter Lucarelli (Monomoy), Ashleigh Tolley (Monomoy), Carlee Tolley (Monomoy), Heidi Smith (Nauset), and Marina Small (Monomoy), after which the festivities began, including music, food, and performances by the Seafire Kids, Codsmack, and Sarah Swain and the Oh Boys!

Proceeds from the event benefit the Women of Fishing Families, a non-profit organization that supports fishing families “beyond the boat” when needed.