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      Shrimping season kicks off again with 27th annual blessing

      By Gregory Woodsgwoods@abcnews4.comMOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Boats big and small sailed through the Charleston Harbor in anticipation of a bountiful shrimping season. On shore, hundreds of people celebrated with live music, and plenty of food and alcohol while the ships were blessed.For the last month, the story has been one of recovery for a local shrimper who nearly lost his boat. But at Sunday's blessing of the fleet, it was a chance for Tommy Edwards and the Miss Judy Too to make a fresh start.For most people aboard the Miss Judy Too on Sunday, the blessing of the fleet was all about the party, the good food, and just having a good time.But for Edwards, it was a little more visceral."It feels nice to smell the fresh air and get the sea salt in [my] face," he said.And it was also about reclaiming the ocean just in time for shrimp season."It's in my blood," Edwards said. "That's all I want to do is to just be on the water."Edwards has operated a boat his entire life and has never missed a blessing of the fleet, but this year he came really close."Everything that needed to be done needed to be done within the first week," he said. "If we weren't done in that first week, then we would have never been ready."It was just four weeks ago that Edwards' shrimp boat partially sank. It took hours of pumping hundreds of gallons of water out of the vessel, but he finally got it floating.He also had to change the batteries, the alternator, the pipes, the starter, and the electrical systems. The community helped him raise $15,000 to cover the repair costs.And everything came together in time for this weekend."We are just glad we were able to be blessed and thank God we were able to get back in time to be blessed," Edwards said.On Sunday, Edwards sailed under the Ravenel Bridge as hundreds of spectators took part in the blessing; now the Miss Judy Too is ready for shrimp season."All we can do now is pray and hope and be ready to go when they open it," Edwards said.Edwards says he expects shrimp season to really kick off in the coming weeks, which means hopefully there will soon be plenty of local shrimp for the people of the Lowcountry.
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