Beautiful weather blesses the fleet at Menemsha Harbor

Dozens of Chilmarkers and friends gathered for the Blessing of the Fleet, large and small, on Sunday morning in Menemsha. — Photo by Michelle Gross

A crowd of around 50 gathered at water’s edge on Menemsha Harbor Sunday morning, for the annual Blessing of The Fleet.

Chilmark Community Church Pastor Seongmoon Ahn, a volunteer pastor at Chilmark Community Church, led the morning service alongside Reverend Arlene Bodge. Church members, children, a few dogs and a group of U.S. Coast Guardsmen shared in a series of hymns and chants before bowing their heads in prayer for safe passage in the season ahead.

“I had a great time with these people. I never expected this many people would be here,” Mr. Ahn, a native of Korea, said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Organist Carol Loud provided a nautical theme for the service with her rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” as a group of children organized toy boats in a circle for their own symbolic blessing of the fleet.

Trumpeter Edson Rogers first rehearse the lyrics of “America The Beautiful” with the group. “If you can hear the trumpet, you’re not singing loud enough,” Mr. Rogers said before leading the group in song.

Just as the service was coming to an end, captain Gregory Mayhew of the fishing vessel Unicorn pulled up to the dock in a timely appearance.

The blessing of the fleet is a tradition that began centuries ago in Mediterranean fishing communities. Predominantly held in Catholic regions, a blessing from the local priest was meant to ensure a safe and bountiful season.