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Experiencing the Blessing of the Fleet - Newport, Oregon
Newport

NEWPORT -- Seeing the Blessing of the Fleet for the first time in this city was a thrill for the Hankins family of Bonanza, Oregon.


“Really informative -- it’s great learning about the history of the coast,” said Dan Hankins, after a boat tour Saturday to watch the event. “Our captain knew the history of all the boats.”


“And all the new babies,” added wife Vera, to the grins of her three daughters, aged 14 to 18.  “You get a much better view of the fishing community when you realize they all know each other, that they’re like a big family.”


The Hankins braved the chill and rain -- and for a short while, hail -- to watch the annual parade of fishing boats and other vessels at Yaquina Bay.


The event began with a red helicopter fly-by by the U.S. Coast Guard, followed by the blessing of each boat on the water by local clergy.

 


Almost two dozen vessels joined the ceremony, from tiny motorboats to larger fishing vessels like the orange Excalibur and the blue and white Michele Ann.  The Captain Andy was all decked out in colorful banners and three skull-and-crossbones flags.


Two kayakers and the U.S. Coast Guard stood watch near the Highway 101 bridge, while charter boats like the Sea Pirate ferried visitors out to the harbor.  A sailboat named Hot Tub was one of the last in the hour-long parade.


A few sun breaks brightened the event, and observers were entertained by seals swimming alongside the historic Newport docks.


The Blessing of the Fleet, begun in the 1950s, follows an old Sicilian custom of bringing clergy to the sea to offer prayers for the safety of the fishing fleet.


Earlier in the day, the Newport Fishermen’s Wives, Inc., held a service at the Fishermen’s Memorial Sanctuary at Yaquina Bay State Park nearby, honoring those lost at sea, and showing support for their families.

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