The Blaine seafarers memorial committee and Blaine commercial fishing members will host the annual Blessing of the Fleet on Sunday, May 4, at 1:30 p.m. in the Blaine Harbor meeting room. Blaine’s fishing fleet travels sometimes thousands of miles during their yearly harvest of the sea. The commercial catch areas may include Washington state inland and Pacific coastal waters, as well as the Gulf of Alaska, Bristol Bay, Bering Sea, southeast Alaska, and the Oregon and California coastlines. Commercial fishing has been called the most dangerous occupation in the United States, and the local clergy help to bless the ships as they are ready to go out to sea, and ask for safe returns for the fishers and their boats.
This is also the time to remember those fishers who died at sea. The Seafarers Memorial Building holds a memorial plaque with the names of the Blaine fishers who died at sea and their boats, starting more than 100 years ago.
The names of those local fishers who died at home in the last year will then be called out, and family or friends may place a flower in the wreath for each fisher as their names are called. This is an important ceremony for the families of our local fishers, and a remembrance of those who have “gone fishin’” for the last time.
This year there are at least four local fishers who have died at home. Please contact the memorial committee with the names of any others who have passed this year either before the ceremony or when the names are called out. It’s also a time to remember other family and friends with the extra flowers that are usually available to put into the wreath after the last names have been called out.
The Blaine High School music department provides music. Several local and state politicians are invited to attend, and to speak briefly to the gathering. The state senate provides a resolution, which will be read at the Blessing of the Fleet.
The wreath will be placed on the Plover ferry, and taken out past the lighthouse to be put to sea. Those who want to go along on the Plover are welcome as long as there’s room. The Plover accommodates 17 passengers.
The seafarers memorial sponsors a scholarship for a local high school student who has ties to the fishing industry. Donations to this scholarship may be made out to the Blaine Chamber of Commerce with notation for the seafarers scholarship.
Refreshments will be served after the ceremony. Anyone who is interested is invited to attend.