Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 9, 2020
Boat parade to honor Andy Gove
July 12 event to memorialize well-known fisherman
Andy Gove winning his category in the Lobster Boat Race in 2017. His fishing vessel, Uncle’s UFO (now Miss Katy), will lead the July 12 boat parade in Stonington Harbor to commemorate his life.
by Leslie Landrigan
On Sunday, July 12, a day when Andy Gove might have been racing his fishing vessel—and winning—his friends and family will stage a boat parade in Stonington Harbor.
Gove, a well-known and well-liked fisherman, died June 20 shortly after celebrating his 90th birthday at his home on the harbor.
“He didn’t want a funeral and all his friends and the fishermen felt terrible,” said Gove’s daughter, Myrna Clifford, in a phone interview. “They wanted to pay their respects and, with the coronavirus, I said, ‘How about a boat parade? We can socially distance.’”
The plan is for boats coming from the east, south and west to slowly come together and form a line from the point of Greenhead and then down toward the Fish Pier.
Clifford said she didn’t know how many boats will participate, but Gove had no shortage of admirers.
When people on Isle au Haut needed something or got into trouble, they called Andy, said Clifford. And after 80 years of putting himself in harm’s way to help others, the Maine Marine Patrol honored him with the Stewardship Award. Marine Patrol Officer Rusty Ames is expected to join the boat parade, said Clifford.
Suzy Shepard said back in the day when most fishermen didn’t have radios that reached far out to sea, fishermen’s wives who needed to reach their husbands would call Rose, Andy’s wife of 75 years. Rose would then reach Andy to relay the message, Shepard said in an interview.
“She was the marine operator,” said Shepard. “And if they needed a part, or Billings [Diesel & Marine Services], she would make the call. We always counted on Rose and Andy as a team.”
Andy also gave to the Island Fishermen’s Wives and other local charities.
“You could always count on Andrew,” said Shepard.
During the parade, her husband, Elder Mike Shepard, will read the Fisherman’s Prayer over the marine radio after a wreath-laying ceremony on Two Bush Island.
Gove’s daughters, Myrna Clifford and Sandy Richter, will first lay an anchor wreath with yellow pot buoys under the American flag on Two Bush Island.
And instead of a nine-gun salute to mark Gove’s 90 years, all boats and people on the shore will give nine blasts from their air horns, said Julie Eaton in an email. Eaton is helping to organize the event.
Gove was especially proud of the many times he won the Lobster Boat Races, said Clifford. She and the immediate family will lead the parade in his former boat, Uncle’s UFO, driven by Nick Wiberg. Wiberg bought Uncle’s UFO two years ago and renamed her Miss Katie.
Clifford said she especially hopes one of his other fishing vessels, Rose, will make it to the parade, along with The Love Boat and Myrna and Sandra. They will line up behind Uncle’s UFO.
Why Uncle’s UFO? Clifford explained that people called her father “Uncle Andy.” “UFO” stood for unidentified flying object if he won his race, or unidentified floating object if he didn’t, she said.
Three years ago, when Gove was 87, his granddaughter Lisa Purnell raced with him.
“She said it was the biggest rush of her life because he went so fast,” Clifford said.
On the day of the parade, communicate on VHF Channel 10. Clifford asks people on shore to wear masks and socially distance themselves.