Every year at the start of the commercial fishing season Ballard First Lutheran Church holds a ceremonial Blessing of the Fleet at Fisherman’s Terminal. This is a great opportunity to recognize the hard, often dangerous work of commercial fishing and to thank the people on and off the boats for being a part of our community and economy. Yesterday I joined with State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Mayor Mike McGinn, Councilmembers Richard Conlin and Tom Rasmussen, a representative from Congressman Jim McDermott’s office, and others to wish the fleet well as Ballard First Lutheran Pastor Erik Wilson Weiberg presented a flag to the Lady Brenda’s captain to sail this season.
Here are a couple of photos and my speaking notes.
Thank you to Ballard First Lutheran.
I’ve always thought, especially given the economy of the past few years, that we could spread this effort of Blessing the Fleet to other sectors. Blessing of the car manufacturers, the home mortgage writers, the restaurant waiters.
I appreciate the opportunity to mark what the men and women of the fleet do, the basic act of pulling sustenance from the ocean and bringing it to land. Through sun, wind, storm. That you make a living at this and that you do it here, in Seattle, is a gift to this city and to this region. The Fleet here at Fisherman’s Terminal in invaluable to us. It’s part of our heritage, our present economy and our future.
I’m Irish Catholic which means I’m guilty standing in a beautiful place on a sunny day. I’ll wrap with a short piece of a poem from a participant in Astoria’s Fisher Poet’s festival that just happened a couple of weeks ago. This is an annual gathering of fisher-artists. I grew up in Portland and spent a lot of time at the coast and from time to time in Astoria where you still have a strong fishing community despite all the changes in rules and economies. This is about a greenhorn back home for the first time. I picked this because the fleet heads out now, but already families think of them coming home. It’s by a woman named Moe Bowstern who has worked boats for years. I have to assume it’s a pen name.
“And then, finally after it’s all over, and you are back home, wherever that may be, among those who love you, who praise you, who hug you and laugh at your jokes and always say good morning–then you will find that beyond all reason, you are homesick. A truck will belch diesel as it passes you and the stench will transport you to a moment in a quiet bay, fueling up at your favorite tender. Everything will be too fast and too loud, there will be too many people everywhere. You will develop an affinity for men with beards. You will learn how to spot a working fisherman, a fellow. You will miss the boat. You will miss the ocean. And that will be hard.”
Good luck, happy fishing and safe voyage.