On Saturday, May 15th at 11:30am Newport Fishermen’s wives will again be sponsoring a strong tradition in Newport’s fishing community called the Blessing of the Fleet. The Blessing is a community ceremony honoring local fishermen and their families. The Blessing is open to any and all who wish to ask blessings on their fishing vessel, charter vessel, pleasure craft, or research vessel. The Blessing of the Fleet began as an old-world Sicilian custom emphasizing faith and perseverance – qualities that have long fueled those who go to sea to earn their living.
Since the 1950’s Newport’s Blessing of the Fleet has continued the custom of asking for prayers for protection at sea, bountiful catches, and peace of mind for the families at home. The Blessing begins May 15th at 10:00am with a Memorial Service at the Fishermen’s Memorial Sanctuary at Yaquina Bay State Park. This service is meant to offer support and encouragement to the families and community while remembering Lincoln County fishermen lost at sea.
Following the Blessing they will start the Boat Procession and Bless the Fleet. This takes place in the harbor and can be viewed from most locations on the Newport Bayfront. The boat parade gets underway at 11:30 am from the area near the Port’s International Terminal. The USCG Search & Rescue Helicopter (if available) and the motor lifeboats of Station Yaquina Bay will signal the start of the parade.
All vessels will follow the lead vessel from the International Terminal heading west, turning just in front of the bridge before heading east to pass in front of the Coast Guard motor lifeboat where local ministers will bless each vessel. Vessel registration forms are also located at England and Schiewe Marine Supply on the Newport Bay Front. People can listen to the blessing as it is broadcast live on KNPT 1310 on the AM dial.
Fishermen’s Wives will end the special day with a BBQ hosted by Fishermen’s Wives at the Port of Newport parking lot at 1:30pm. They will be serving food and giving out “2021 Blessing of the Fleet” t-shirts and some comfortable cloth masks provided by the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission.
Everyone is looking forward to taking this time to re-engage the Newport community and give thanks for all of the support the fishing industry has received throughout the years. This lunch, shirts and masks will be free of charge and is open to everyone in our community. It will take place at the Port of Newport, by the work dock. First come, first serve. It is hard to estimate the crowd this year, so we will be serving food until it runs out. The same goes for our free shirts and masks.
Sadly, Fishermens’ Wives had to make the tough choices to postpone a couple of their events until after they got through this pandemic. They won’t be having their Highliner Competition and Survival Suit races but they are doing everything they can to make this a safe and fun event for everyone despite these weird times we are in.
See you there, and Thank You!
Taunette Dixon, Fishermen’s Wives