While we generally think of the Crab Festival as a fun time full of lots of cool things to do, there is a more serious, even somber side to the festival.
Since its beginning some 50 years ago, the Crab Festival has traditionally been a gathering for fishermen and their families. As with most family gatherings there’s a time for celebration, a time for remembering, and a time for hoping for the future.
Sunday’s Fishermen’s Memorial Service is a time for remembering. Monday, fishermen look to a safe future with the traditional Blessing of the Fleet.
While it’s been a part of the Crab Festival for decades, the Blessing of the Fleet doesn’t generate the interest that it used to, and long-time Kodiak fisherman Howard Peterson wants to change that.
– ((Blessing of Fleet 1 :15 "I think a …the Crab Festival."))
Peterson says the actual blessing of the fleet – the requests for a safe season and protection while at sea – is important to the fishermen and their families:
– ((Blessing of Fleet 2 :09 "There isn’t a year…most of them."))
The fleet blessing will be held at the Ferry Dock this year. Boats will gather off Shahafka Cove-Mission Beach for the 1:00 p.m. procession to the Ferry Dock where a priest will bless each vessel and its crew as they pass by. Kayakers may gather in front of the Channel Side Chowder House and join the passing vessels.
-((Blessing of Fleet 3 :45 "Everybody usually…fishermen and seafarers."))
Afterwards, the newly blessed fleet takes the wreath from Sunday’s memorial service, with the names of all the past year’s lost fishermen, out to sea where it is set free to float in the waters off town.
Peterson adds that his family usually makes a big event of the fleet blessing. They grill up freshly caught seafood on the boat and enjoy just spend time together as a family at sea.