Vice-president of SE Alaskan Women in Fisheries, Linda Marlin Smith, places flowers as the names of Sitka’s departed are read during the annual Blessing of the Fleet. The flowers were later “cast upon the sea” from the O’Connell Bridge. (KCAW/Robert Woolsey)

A spring tradition resumed in Sitka on Friday (4-16-21) — on what felt like the first real day of spring in Southeast: The Annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Southeast Alaska Women in Fisheries organizes the event, in conjunction with the Sitka Lutheran Church and St. Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral. Last year the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the blessing, and this year the traditional large ceremony at Crescent Harbor was replaced with a scaled-back ceremony at the Mariner’s Wall at ANB Harbor.

But the solemn reading of the names of Sitka’s departed was unchanged, as was the ringing of the bell signaling the end of their last watch.

KCAW’s Robert Woolsey attended and sent this audio postcard.