Reading from II Chronicles, Pastor Dane Yates of Covenant Church urged the fishing and shrimping families of Sneads Ferry to keep strong and not lose hope for there was a reward for their hard work.
“Today we’re here to bless our fishing community,” he said in a booming voice that made up for the sounds of the gust and the drone overhead. “They work tirelessly through the winds and the rain and the cold and the heat … they do it day in and day out because they love our community and they love what they do.”
A crowd of about 70 gathered at the Fulcher’s Landing boat ramp on Saturday morning for the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Sneads Ferry. It included locals and out-of-towners, relatives of fishermen and frequenters of seafood vendors.
Many of the fishermen themselves chose to experience the ceremony out on the water. The prayers and music — provided by local pastors and a local brass band, respectively — were broadcast out to them via radio.
This ceremony, according to its co-founder Capt. Billy Davis, has been going on for more than 20 years. It has been at the current location for six years.
Pastor Steve Allen emceed the Blessing and read out the names of the fallen fishermen. Another pastor laid the three foot blue ribbon representing them on the water. There were families and single names read out, those familiar only to some and those familiar to the entire community. Among the names were Davis, Everett and Millis.
“I'm 57 years old and I can put a face with a lot of those names,” Davis said after the ceremony. “There are people there that are waiting to hear that one name.”
It was good to hear the names of his late family members, said Tim Millis after the ceremony, but he preferred them to have been there at the ceremony with him.
Though he usually went out on his boat for the Blessing, Millis said, he made it a point to always be at the ceremony in one way or another.
“It just seems like it helps everything,” he said of the Blessing. “It’s good to remember them.”
Their son, his wife Iris Millis said, was out on the water in a blue boat just out of view. She herself, despite marrying into a shrimper family, was not a fan of being out on the water.
There were also residents at the boat landing that had no ties to the fishing families besides their love for the latter’s food.
“Do we know any fishermen? We certainly frequent them,” Georgette Keith, a Sneads Ferry resident of 15 years, said after the Blessing.
Keith described the Blessing as “one of those Americana things” that she and her friend Barbara Civelli loved. Civelli, who has lived in Sneads Ferry for 20 years, said it was a good reminder to pray for the fishing families throughout the year.
Both Keith and Civelli have lived in Sneads Ferry long enough to consider this their community now. And as Keith pointed out, it is a community to which fishing and shrimping are central.
“This is this community” Keith said.
Reporter Maxim Tamarov can be reached at 910-219-8439 or email@example.com.