They That Go Down to The Sea In Ships

About a week ago I found myself with some time on my hands and a beautiful late summer day. Yes, I say late summer because the heat of July was gone and there was a freshness to the air.

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As I thought about my options I got the urge to take a drive to Gloucester. I spent many happy hours scuba diving in Gloucester waters when I first moved to Massachusetts. As I moved farther and farther south my jaunts to the Cape Ann area became less and less. Just as I never went to Cape Cod when I lived north of Boston I now avoid the traffic that makes a northbound trip to Cape Ann so difficult.

But this day I felt adventurous so about 11 am I headed out to make the drive north. The fates must have agreed with my decision because there was no traffic and I made excellent time.

The closer I got to Gloucester the more nostalgic I became. I passed the exit to Folly Cove, one of my old dive spots and crossed the bridge over the Annisquam River, a tidal, salt-water estuary.

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Eventually I found myself driving along the harbor following the long, narrow Stacy Esplanade. There ahead of me was the symbol of Gloucester, a memorial to all those thousands of Gloucester fisherman lost at sea in the first three centuries of Gloucester’s history.

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The Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial is an eight foot tall bronze statue of a fisherman dressed in oilskins braced at the wheel of his ship.

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The deck is sloping, his face rugged. The statue rests on a granite base. A small plaque on the north or street facing side of the base reads “MEMORIAL TO THE GLOUCESTER FISHERMAN, August 23,1923”

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On the front or harbor-facing side is the inscription from the 107th Psalm which reads:

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I have seen this statue many times over the years and in between I’ve seen many photos, yet it never fails to move me. It speaks to the hugeness of the ocean and the smallness of man who dares to brave its vastness as well as memorialize those that set sail never to return.

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