From Newport Fishermens Wives
The Newport Fisherman wives will again be sponsoring a strong tradition in Newport’s fishing community called the Blessing of the Fleet. The Blessing of the Fleet 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 is on the third Saturday in March (March 17th), because it falls at a time when many Newport fishermen are in port gearing up-coming seasons; Chinook salmon or the Oregon pink shrimp season. Dungeness crab season continues through August, although many of the crabbers will have put away their gear and will be readying for other fisheries.
The day’s events start at 8 am 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. Participants are encouraged to bring a flower to add to a communal bouquet in remembrance of their friend or loved one.
Also the Newport Fisherman’s wives display a Ribbon Trail. This trail of ribbons symbolizes Lincoln County commercial fishermen who lost their lives at sea while working to harvest fresh wild seafood and make a life for their family. Since 1900, out of 116 fishermen lost, only 38 were recovered and brought home to rest. The remaining 78 were taken by the sea forever. Each ribbon represents someone’s husband, father, son, brother, and friend; each are memorialized at the Fishermen’s Memorial Sanctuary at Yaquina Bay State Park.
The Newport Fisherman’s wives are focusing this year’s events on the importance of safety. Fishing is the most dangerous occupation in the United States. The Fisherman Safety and Survival Training is essential to ensure fisherman can respond to emergencies while at sea and save lives. The survival/immersion suit races highlight the importance of training on vessels. The training is critically important. It becomes second nature having the muscle memory to put on the survival/ immersion suit and the training done on each vessel makes all of the safety and survival equipment familiar for use. At 9:30 am the Fisherman’s Wives sponsor Survival Suit races which occur at Port Dock 3. Teams-of-three don survival suits while being timed. They enter the bay and swim out to a raft – anchored about 50 feet from the Port Dock 3. Participants include local commercial fisherman, active coast guard, and NOAA personnel. If you are interested in putting together a team of three, entry forms are available at England and Schiewe Marine Supply stores on the Newport bay front.
The boat parade gets underway at 12:45 PM, from the area near the Port’s international terminal. The USCG Search & Rescue Helicopter (if available) and the motor lifeboats of Station Yaquina Bay signal the start of the parade. All vessels will follow the lead vessel of their fishery, or category, 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, were local ministers will bless each vessel. Also on board the local coast guard vessels will be the Newport Loyalty Days Court. The broadcast can be heard over KNPT 1310 AM beginning at 1:05 PM. Vessel registration forms are also located at England and Schiewe Marine Supply on the Newport Bay Front.
Ending this special day is the Highliner Competition at 3 PM. The Newport Fisherman’s wives would like to invite Fishermen and all others to compete in a race involving fishing related tasks, such as crab pot stacking, net mending, coiling, knot tying, among other things. Show off your skills and race to become Newport’s first Highliner with a chance to win $500. A $15.00 sign up fee will be taken at the event. Event sign up is at Port dock 7 starting at 2:00 PM.
For more information contact the Newport Fisherman’s Wives at 541-574-5555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.