At one time, wives of Central Coast fishermen would trek to Morro Rock to wave their husbands’ boats goodbye as they set out to sea, fearing the dangers they would face. With today’s improved weather-forecast technology, the families still wave, but with more confidence their loved ones will return home safely.
The Central Coast Women for Fisheries intends to memorialize the ritual with a permanent monument at Morro Rock designed by sculptor Elizabeth MacQueen.
Susan Maharry is chairwoman for the project, titled “For Those Who Wait.”
Membership Chairwoman Sharon Rowley said the group has been fundraising and hopes to install the statue next year.
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“We’ve worked the past four years with Morro Bay Rotary on a fish fry dinner. On Aug. 31 from noon to 5 p.m., people can take home or eat dinners at St. Timothy’s. Our group cooks local rockfish caught by Rotary members. They fish at a discount out of Virg’s Landing. Tognazzini’s and Cookie Crock help. Rotary provides desserts and works the event. We all sell tickets. It’s a donation of $10 for the dinner to help fund our projects.”
Rowley said her group formed in 2004 to get more women involved in fishing. They have about 70 members, led by President Lisa Winn. The group’s largest fundraiser is the Albacore Enchilada Sale in February. Yearly, the group provides $20,000 in college scholarships to children of fishing families.
One year, the group worked with the Morro Bay National Estuary and gave each fishing boat bags to absorb bilge pump oil to improve Morro Bay’s water quality. At the Morro Bay Harbor Festival, group members work with children on fish-prints and offer a display showing the availability of locally caught fish. Find out more at www.womenforfish.org.
Sharon and John Rowley are both sportfishing captains, who worked in commercial fishing in the 1970s until they joined the Virg’s Landing team in the 1980s. Both still work at Virg’s part time. Sharon’s mother, Rita Gartrell, captained boats out of Morro Bay. The couple’s daughter, Michele Leary, captained the Rita G. She started the Kids at Sea Program before she passed away last year. Michele’s daughter, Amanda, attends Los Osos Middle School.
“Michele worked long hours and so hard. Amanda’s doing fine. She always had her room at our house and at home which made the transition easier,” Sharon Rowley said.
Fish fry dinner tickets are available from Rotarians, at Bayshore Realty or call Sharon Rowley at 674-4854.
Reach Judy Salamacha at email@example.com or 801-1422.