Provincetown Fishing Tradition Celebrated at Blessing of the Fleet

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This 1960’s postcard shows a plentiful catch of fish on a commercial fishing boat out of Provincetown.  Fifty plus years later and the commercial fishing boats are not as plentiful as they once were, docked off of MacMillan Pier.  Still the tradition continues and has been revitalized in recent years with the Portuguese Festival that has enhanced the annual Blessing of the Fleet. 

The end of June is a great time to visit Provincetown an the celebration begins this weekend on Thursday the 26th.  To get into the mood of Provincetown, pick up a copy of Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook , the recently published murder mystery that still has everyone talking.  What happens during the Blessing of the Fleet in the story set in the 1980s might give you some clues. A few autographed copies can be found at the  Provincetown Bookshop on Commercial Street or buy it online in trade paperback or ebook. Like us on Facebook and keep the conversation going.

Provincetown East Harbor Now Pilgrim Lake

Pilgrim Lake approaching from Mayflower Heights Provincetown, Cape Cod

Pilgrim Lake approaching from Mayflower Heights
Provincetown, Cape Cod

This postcard shows what Pilgrim Lake looked like approximately 120 years ago, but it had already undergone many changes.

Once known historically as Eastern Harbor and later as East Harbor, the protected inlet was eventually diked in 1868 to make it possible for track to be laid for the railroad that made Provincetown into a thriving hub for fishing. The railroad took the fish from the Provincetown Wharf all the way to New York City.

But in building a railroad and a roadway in 1877, East Harbor became a lake known as Pilgrim Lake.

What’s interesting in this old postcard is that the dunes look fairly low and the vegetation is high. The vegetation is what caused the desalination. The fish population gradually depleted although in the mid 20th century there were reports of large terrapin turtles that lived in the lake. What did they eat?

The vegetation and wildlife continues to evolve as the National Park Service attempts to restore portions of the habitat.

What happens next? Only time will tell. Life is often a mystery.

Want to read a novel set in Provincetown? Remaining in Provincetown, “captures the characters and places perfectly,” says one reader review. “Finally an author has been able to successfully capture the flavor of that quirky town on the tip of Cape Cod and do it well,” says another. Available at Provinetown’s favorite local bookstore, Provincetown Bookshop,  or online as a paperback or ebook you’ll want to read Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook to get you ready for summer 2014. Like it on Facebook and keep the conversation going.

Fishermen of Provincetown a 19th Century Photograph with Style

Fishermen of Provincetown, Mass.

Fishermen of Provincetown, Mass.

The photograph could have been taken yesterday, but it was taken for a postcard published by the New England News Company in the late 1800’s.  Don’t you love the serious expression on these handsome men’s faces?   It’s the start of the season for visitors to start arriving for fresh seafood, long walks on the beach and over the sand dunes. There is, after all, no other place in the world like Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod.  Want to get in the mood with an appropriate book? If you haven’t yet read the mystery novel  Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook there is no time like the present. It’s available at your favorite local bookstores as well as online in trade paperback and ebook. Like us on Facebook and keep the conversation going!

Railroad Wharf Provincetown Cape Cod Sailing Vessels

Provincetown Railroad Wharf

Provincetown
Railroad Wharf

This postcard, a hand colored photograph, was mailed from Provincetown Massachusetts to Bethehem  New Hampshire in 1908. Titled  “Fishing & Pleasure Boats, Railroad Wharf, Provincetown, Mass” it was published by The Robinson Brothers in Boston and was printed in Germany and distributed by the Metropolitan News Company.
It is a lovely picture which shows the gracefulness of the sailboats used for recreation and the handsome schooners used for fishing. Before there was  a Macmillan Wharf, the main downtown wharf in Provincetown was known as Railroad Wharf because the railroad tracks ran all the way down to the end in order to easily load fish off the fishing boats for shipping (with some ice of course) straight to major cities that included New York. It was back in the days when men wore bowler derby hats and a child might carry a parasol. Horses and carts were still being used, along with the first automobiles. That was long ago and times have changed. The town on the tip of Cape Cod continues to evolve. What was it like a few decades ago? To get an impression, read the new mystery novel Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook. Available online where books are sold and locally in Provincetown at the Provincetown bookshop (autographed). Like us on facebook and keep the conversation growing.

Provincetown Cape Cod Seining Fish

Seining FIsh Provincetown Massachusetts

Seining FIsh Provincetown Massachusetts

This antique Provincetown postcard is entitled “Seining Fish” and was published by the Provincetown Advocate in the late 19th century. The American Indians used weirs, stationary nets to capture fish and fishing weirs were still a common sight in parts of Cape Cod  Bay in the 20th century. But another fishing technique, popular in the 19th century as depicted in this antique Provincetown postcard, was seine fishing. Seine fishing uses nets that are hung vertically in the water, set in place to catch a school of fish and then removed. The bottom edge of the net is held down by weights while the top of the net edge is held aloft by floats.  Purse seine fishing uses rings on the edges of the nets to gather the net together like a purse. That’s where it gets its name—purse seine.

Names can be very descriptive. What is the significance of the name of the novel, Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook? Who is remaining? Is it the murder victim or is it the characters who have chosen the town as their home and have chosen to stay? Want to learn more? Read the murder mystery available at your local bookstore or online as a trade paperback or ebook. Like us on Facebook

At bookstores that include the Provincetown Bookshop.

At bookstores that include the Provincetown Bookshop.

Like our facebook fan page and you may be selected to receive a FREE advance cppy!

Like our facebook fan page and you may be selected to receive a FREE advance cppy!

and keep the conversation going.

Provincetown 19th Century Fishing Dock

The docks

Walk down the Provincetown wharf and docked at the very end are a few fishing boats with steel hulls and large dragging nets, called draggers.. Fishing has always been a hard way to make a living, but with quotas on how many fish of a certain specie can be caught, it”s even more challenging. The beautiful color lithograph postcard above shows what it was like on the docks in Provincetown in the 19th century when fishing was in its heyday, Times and circumstances change and while fishing is no longer lucrative there are opportunities for whale watching and fishing excursions for visitors. On a September weekend, the town is busy. Want to learn more about what it is like to live in Provincetown. Return to the 1990s in Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook now once again available at the Provincetown Bookshop and online at Amazon.com in Trade paperback or as an ebook. Like us on Facebook and keep the conversation going,

Blessing of the Fleet a Provincetown Tradition

Ptown4The Blessing of the Fleet in Provincetown, that takes place each year on the last Sunday in June, is a tradition that originated in Mediterranean fishing communities. With its large Portuguese community of fishermen who were the economic backbone of the community during the late 19th and 20th century, it”s surprising that it wasn’t”t until 1948 that the. Blessing of the Fleet tradition was brought to Provincetown. A Catholic mass and the blessing of a priest to ask God for a safe fishing season and a bountiful one is further celebrated with a parade, performances, games, and festivities, After the boats are blessed from the end of Macmillan wharf, where they line up bedecked with banners and flags, the fishermen and families celebrate with a picnic lunch on their vessel and a trip to Long Point, often going for a swim on a hot day and perhaps enjoying quite a bit of beer and wine.
While the Blessing of the Fleet is now combined with the four day Portuguese Festival, in earlier times the festivities was more focused to serve the community of fishermen and their friends and families, In the new mystery novel Remaining in Provincetown, a pivotal event takes place in Sarah Carreiro”s life at a Blessing of the Fleet, that she reflects on as she returns to town to bury her husband who has been murdered. What happened? Read the book, currently available for sale at bookstores, including the Provincetown Bookshop and online at Amazon in trade paperback and on Kindle. Like us on Facebook. Keep the conversation going.

Fishing Boats at Provinetown, Cape Cod Mass. circa 1900

Fishing Boats at Provinetown, Cape Cod Mass. circa 1900

Provincetown walk across the water

Provincetown, Massachusetts Breakwater built in 1911

Provincetown, Massachusetts Breakwater built in 1911

The breakwater that spans across  from the end of Cape Cod’s hook across the Bay to the little spit of land known as Long Point has been in place as long as anyone can remember. But there was a time when it was referred to as “The New Government Breakwater” as it is on this postcard.  Walk across the breakwater and you’ll arrive at Long Point and the Long Point Lighthouse. Built by the Arm Corp of Engineers and completed in 1911, the intent of the breakwater was to secure the safety of the harbor and prevent the erosion of sand.  Take a walk on the breakwater and arrive at the Long Point Lighthouse or practice your skills climbing the rocks. It used to be a great place to gather mussels to steam for dinner, along with  hermit crabs and starfish.  Still the sand  around the breakwater moves and splits as the decades pass. Life changes . People die. Others  leave and new residents arrive and decide to remain in Provincetown.  Thus the name of the novel Remaining in Provincetown, a mystery not only about a murder but about the town itself.

Provincetown souvenirs are collectibles and memories

Commercial Street near Town Hall, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Commercial Street near Town Hall, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown in summer is a bustling place. The narrow streets are crowded with tourists. Even 100 years ago when the fishing industry provided year-round income for families, the  tourist trade was important. Souvenir shops that sold postcards, like this one shown above, as well as collectible souvenir spoons, plates, paper weights, and glasses provided seasonal income for local residents. Servicemen in the Coast Guard and Navy would come into town to see the sights that included fine restaurants, bars, and entertainment. The T-shirt shops came later! Town Hall in this antique postcard is partially obscured by the thick foliage of the trees, but it looks very much the same today as it did back then. In 1990 when the novel Remaining in Provincetown takes place, Town Hall was painted white and one of the characters has their office inside. Which one? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Fishing in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown fishermen baiting up trawl

Provincetown fishermen baiting up trawl

 

Provincetown once had a booming fishing industry. The harbor on the tip of Cape Cod was filled with fishing boats in early morning, on their way out to sea, heading as far as Georges Bank, the most westward of the great Atlantic fishing banks.  Sought after fish species included cod, haddock, herring, and flounder.  While the fish populations have decreased due to the high demand for seafood, fishing is still an important part of the Cape Cod economy. A common way of fishing in the 19th and early 20th century was called trawling. Large nets were used to drag behind the boat to gather up fish.  Thus the term dragger referred to boats that were trawlers.  Fishing boats would also troll with baited line.   Dragging baited lines behind a boat is referred to as trolling. The antique postcard above shows fishermen in Provincetown, Massachusetts baiting trawl.

Provincetown developed alternative ways to support its economy by promoting tourism and the arts. It’s a great town to visit and to read about. Don’t forget to put Remaining in Provincetown on your reading list this summer. It’s a novel with more than one mystery in the plot.