Fishermen, scallopers and the Island residents and visitors who feast on their catch all gathered by the Menemsha docks Thursday for the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust’s annual Meet the Fleet Event.

A harbor-side party celebrating the Island’s commercial fishing community, the event featured maritime attractions and competitions for seafood-lovers of all ages. At the center of it all was the time-honored tradition of crab racing, with children lining up all evening for a chance to back one of the scampering crustaceans.

Crab races are a perennial favorite. — Albert O. Fischer

Preservation trust intern Pierce Amyond ran the races, periodically checking crab traps to swap out tired crabs with fresh ones. The first race of the evening was a nailbiter: crab number three raced down three-quarters of the track before abruptly halting, allowing number one to steadily scamper to a first-place finish.

Slow and steady, as usual, won the race.

Meanwhile, over by the trust’s MV Seafood Collaborative building, employee Isaac Richards demonstrated the proper technique to fillet a 33-pound yellowfin tuna, fresh caught off the coast of Noman’s Island.

Isaac Richards displays a yellowfin tuna. — Albert O. Fischer

“That’s a nice hunk of meat there,” Mr. Richards said, as he sliced off the top loin of the fish and displayed it to a transfixed crowd.

Down on Dutcher Dock, fishermen and Coast Guard members stationed at Menemsha lined up to compete in a rope-splicing and knot-tying competition. The row of competitors scrambled to complete a variety of tests, but Mike Olivera of the sea-scalloping vessel Menemsha Rose came out on top by a mile.

His secret to success, a laconic Mr. Olivera said, was “years of experience.”

Later, Coast Guard members competed in an aquatic safety suit race, seeing who could wriggle into the bright red floating suits and swim to a raft in the harbor the fastest. When the first person jumped in the water, fishermen took this as their cue, and many leaped from their boats parked along the dock to take a dip as well.

Dutcher Dock was the place to be. — Albert O. Fischer

The highlight of the evening, though, was the Coast Guard’s aerial demonstration.

“Keep your eyes and ears prepped for the horizon,” announced Darby Patterson, performing vocals with the Philly Project that evening. “I have word that a helicopter is on the way.”

After circling the skies several times, the helicopter dipped down close to the waters of the harbor, sending a refreshing saltwater spray into the audience. The aircraft then traveled over to the town beach, where Coast Guard members dropped down by rope into the ocean.

Soon after, the band started back up again, the oyster bar remained crowded, and revelers enjoyed a cool Menemsha summer night.

More pictures.