Annual Blessing of the Fleet

Blessing of the Fleet 2016

To give you a little background on the Blessing of the Fleet, in boating communities across the US, Canada and Europe, one of the traditions at the beginning of each new boating season is the Blessing of the Fleet. It’s thought that the tradition of the Blessing of the Fleet originated centuries ago in Europe where it was common practice to bless boats to ensure safe passage and a bountiful season.

This year’s Blessing of the Fleet will take place on Saturday, May 7th at 11 am at the New Bern Grand Marina Yacht Club. The New Bern Yacht Club and the Cape Lookout Sail and Power Squadron (CLSPS) are joining together to co-sponsor this event. Matt Englebrecht of WITN Channel 6 will be the Master of Ceremonies for the Blessing of the Fleet. Clergy from some the some of our local churches will be assisting with the blessings of the boats. The ceremony will take place on the large covered patio area overlooking New Bern Grand Marina behind the Double Tree Hotel’s “Inn Building”, next door to the New Bern Riverfront Convention center.

The New Bern Grand Marina is offering free docking on the day to all participants of the Blessing of the Fleet along the “G” dock at the marina. For those wishing to spend the night or the week end at the New Bern Grand Marina, please contact Doug Walker, the Dock Master at the marina by calling 252-638-0318 to reserve an overnight or weekend slip. Electric and water and hookups will be provided for those boats at a cost of $1.00 per foot per night for overnight boats.

Following the ceremony, a buffet lunch will be offered to all participants and guests. The cost of the luncheon will be $15.00 per person (including tax and gratuity).

The luncheon will be held in the conference rooms and the covered patio area of the Double Tree’s Inn Building overlooking the marina.

Immediately after the lunch, an honor boat will take a floral wreath out on the Neuse River where the wreath will be placed in the waters of the Neuse. Boaters and their guests are invited to join a procession of boats accompanying the honor boat to observe the laying of the wreath.

Anyone wishing to participate in the Blessing of the Fleet are asked to RSVP with Bill McHale or Neal Byrne by Friday, April  29th, providing details of their boat (boat name, LOA and Beam), so that we can accommodate all those wishing to participate by water. Boats of all types and size are encouraged to participate. In addition, quests are also welcome to come by “Land Yacht” to participate in the ceremony and luncheon.

Checks for the luncheon should be made out to the “CLSPS” in the amount of $15 per person attending and mailed to Neal Byrne at 6115 Castleton Court, New Bern, NC 28560. Checks for the luncheon will need to be received by Friday April 29th.

In addition to the Blessing of the Fleet event, the Cape Lookout Sail & Power Squadron will be offering free boat safety inspections, dockside at the New Bern Grand Marina prior to the ceremony in the morning and in the afternoon following the ceremony.

All boats arriving on the day of the event should plan on arriving at the New Bern Grand Marina no later than 10 am on Sat, May 7th. Line handlers will be standing by to assist arriving boats in tying up. Hailing frequency for arriving boats will be Channel 71 on your VHF radio. As you are arriving at the New Bern Grand Marina on the morning of the event, please radio ahead, hailing the “Blessing of the Fleet Dock Master” on VHF Channel 71 for instructions on where to dock, as slips will be assigned according to boat size to optimize available docking space.

In the event of a cancellation due to bad weather, the event would be rescheduled for following weekend (weekend of May 14th).

For more information, call 304-541-8321 or 413-283-9554.

Submitted by: Bill McHale

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