Most of the time the Menemsha docks are a quiet place, Capt. Wes Brighton said. Fishermen come and go, unloading their catch and setting up to set sail. But on Thursday evening, the dock was bustling with people chatting with fishermen, learning how to fillet, racing crabs and slurping down oysters during the second annual Meet the Fleet.

Crab racing was organized by Ella Keene. — Ray Ewing

Organized by the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust, Meet the Fleet was created to draw attention to the Vineyard’s fishing industry and raise money for the organization. Funds go to help start a permit bank, create loans for new fishermen, and change restrictive legislation.

This year’s event was in honor of Luke Gurney, a commercial conch fisherman who was swept overboard in June and died.

John Keene, the president of the Fishermen’s Preservation Trust, said the absence of Mr. Gurney’s boat, No Regrets, was a noticeable difference this year.

“He was a board member as well as an awesome and great guy,” Mr. Keene said.

Good Night Louise performed aboard the Martha Elizabeth. — Ray Ewing

Mr. Gurney’s death shook the Island fishing community, he said. It’s a small community, but one the trust is trying to grow.

“We’re on the cusp of a lot of success,” Mr. Keene said, noting the trust needs to raise millions of dollars to reach their goals.

Children scrambled down the small ladder to the engine room of the Roann, a 1947 dragger built for Vineyarder Roy Campbell. Mr. Campbell used the ship to fish for cod, fluke and flounder out of Vineyard Haven harbor for years.

The Roann is now a museum piece owned by Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, but returned to the Vineyard for Meet the Fleet for the second year in a row, taking a place next to working fishing boats.

Second annual Meet the Fleet was sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Fishermen's Preservation Trust. — Ray Ewing

The Coast Guard boats were a big draw for the kids, second only to crab racing. Ella Keene was the mastermind behind the crab races — she and brother often race crabs at the Keenes’ shacks in Menemsha. This year Ella and her friend Allie Keefe tried to catch all of the crabs for the races themselves, but when a lobster pot only revealed one crustacean, they made a stop at the touch tank and liberated several crabs to take part in the festivities.

The crabs chased pieces of bait strung along by young competitors while Good Night Louise played aboard the Martha Elizabeth.

The music, oysters and crabs were all secondary to the real purpose of Meet the Fleet.

“We’re here because we’re trying to keep Menemsha a working waterfront, and the essence of a working waterfront is an owner-operated boat,” Chilmark selectman and trust member Warren Doty said. Boats like the Little Lady, Four Kids and Kingfisher lined up on the dock.

Ben Renna from Coast Guard Station Menemsha with station mascot Coco. — Ray Ewing

During a heart-pumping net-mending contest, cod fisherman Todd Goodell kept a steady hand and never lost his cool, clinching a victory for the second year in a row.

“It’s just like knitting,” an onlooker observed.

As the sun set, turning the water orange, Capt. Mike Waters wandered about the docks wearing the jaw of a 1,191 pound tiger shark like a necklace.

“It’s the perfect day, the perfect place, the perfect event,” Mr. Waters said.

More photos from Meet the Fleet.