Blessing of the Fleet – Newport all day Saturday
The day begins with a memorial service at 8 am at Yaquina Bay State Park at the Fishermen’s Memorial – a memorial service for all those who have lost their lives at sea. Saturday’s memorial service will likely include the latest name of a fisherman who lost his life this week in the Bering Sea aboard the Newport-based F/V The Seeker. Eric Eder of Waldport fell overboard earlier this week off Unimak Island in the Aleutian Chain. An extensive search failed to produce any sign of him. Other fishermen who lost their lives in years past will also be celebrated and memorialized by families and friends.
After the memorial service The Blessing of the Fleet moves into high gear at 9:30 am with the survival suit races on the Bayfront at Port Dock 3. Teams from the Coast Guard compete with commercial fishermen and other “wanna be survivalists” as to who can get into their survival suits the fastest and swim the quickest to a covered survival raft about 150 feet away.
The actual Blessing of the Fleet will begin at 1 pm, with vessels filing past with local religious leaders aboard a Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat. It’s an old Sicilian tradition that beckons to God for safe journey to sea to fish and a bountiful return to port fully laden with a healthy catch – and that loved ones left behind are comforted and hopeful for their loved ones safe return.
At 3 pm, the Highliner Competition at Port Dock 7, will see different fishing boat crews compete at stacking crab pots, shoveling ice and tying knots, throwing life rings and mending nets. Competitors will be competing for some pretty good cash money.
The event is put on by the Newport Fishermens’ Wives which is a benevolent and charitable organization that provides support and encouragement for families who derive their living from the sea.