On Saturday, May 15, the Newport Fishermen’s Wives (NFW) will again be sponsoring a strong tradition in Lincoln County’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.
Events will be starting at 10 a.m. 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.
Next, the group 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 a.m., from the area near the Port’s international terminal. The United States Coast Guard 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 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 AM 1310 KNPT
NFW’s will end this special day with a BBQ hosted by them at the Port of Newport parking lot at 1:30 p.m.
“We will be serving food and giving out our 2021 Blessing of the Fleet sponsor t-shirts and some comfortable cloth masks provided to us from the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission,” Taunette Dixon said. “We are looking forward to taking this time to re-engage with our community and give thanks for all of the support we have gotten throughout the last few years. This lunch, shirts and masks will be free of charge and is open to everyone in our community.”
The event will take place at the Port of Newport, by the work dock. First come, first serve, as it is hard for NFW to estimate the crowd that they will get this year, so they will be serving food until it runs out, the same goes for their free shirts and masks.
“Sadly, we had to make the tough choices to postpone a couple of our events until after we get through this pandemic,” Dixon said. “We won’t be having our Highliner Competition and our Survival Suit races, we are doing everything we can to make this a safe, fun event for everyone despite these weird times we are in.”