Post by Becky at Dockwa - Published on 4/13/21 10:00 AM
The high season is fast approaching the cooler climates, which means marinas and harbors across the country are in prime time to host their annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies for fishermen, servicemen and women, boaters, and sailors.
Note: This post was originally published in April 2018, and is in the process of being updated for the 2021 season.
Know of a ceremony near you? Email email@example.com and we'll have your event listed in a jiffy.
Blessing of the Fleet History
The custom of the Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition observed by fishing and boating communities, in which they pray for a bountiful harvest and for the safety of the men at sea. The practice can be traced back to Old World Mediterranean fishing communities, and while the practice originated from Catholicism and brought to the United States by immigrants who held strongly to their Christian beliefs, it has since evolved to embrace more religions and cultures as it spread. Each harbor makes its annual Blessing of the Fleet its own, incorporating boat parades, church services, contests, potlucks, and music, some even expanding the event to a multi-day festival.
Jamestown, RI: Conanicut Marina typically hosts their Blessing of the Fleet at the end of their fuel dock in June! Stay tuned for more details on the event.
Cranston, RI: The Rhode Island Yacht Club typically hosts the Gaspee Days parade of boats + Blessing of the Fleet on a Saturday in mid-June.
Provincetown, MA:This Blessing of the Fleet is part of the Portuguese Festival Weekend, typically held at the end of June. The festival includes four days of live music, dancing, parades, incredible food, games, and so much more.
Onset, MA:Hosted by the Onset Bay Association on 4th of July weekend, this event includes a parade, blessing ceremony, dance party, and fireworks display! Visit theirFacebook pagefor updates.
Stonington, CT: One of the longest running Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies in New England, every year on the last weekend in July the annual Stonington Harbor Blessing of the Fleet ceremony remembers Stonington’s fishermen, the last fishing fleet in Connecticut. This two-day celebration includes parades, bands, food, dancing on the docks, and a Sunday Mass followed by the Blessing of the Fleet and the parade of boats. An anchor-shaped wreath is also laid on the waters outside Stonington Harbor.
Cape Charles, VA: The town marina annually holds the Blessing of the Fleet in Cape Charles Town Harbor.
Gloucester Point, VA:York River Yacht Haven hosts their annual Blessing of the Fleet and Sock Burning Ceremony, followed by a cook-out. Dates are TBD, check back for more info.
Mount Pleasant, SC:Mount Pleasant's annual Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival typically takes place in late April. The festivalpays tribute to the local shrimping and fishing industry, with a ceremony, boat parade, live music, and activities for the whole family. Every year since 1988 the net proceeds from the festival are donated to local nonprofit organizations.
McLellanville, SC: The Annual Lowcountry Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet typically takes place in early May. The festival is four days of live music, dancing, parades, incredible food, games and more than 30 events and activities, capped off with the Blessing of The Fleet. After a procession through town, boats decked out in their finest parade past the Bishop and receive their Blessing for a safe & prosperous year.
Darien, GA: Darien's annual Blessing of the Fleet, typically held in late March, is an annual festival that the Darien-McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce hosts to celebrate their biggest industry: shrimping. This three-day fun-filled event consists of an art show, various food and drink vendors, arts and crafts, a YMCA 5K, children's activities, a classic car show, nightly live entertainment and a marine parade. On Sunday, they Bless their shrimp boat captains with a safe and prosperous season, which draws a crowd of 30,000 throughout the weekend.
St. Augustine, FL:The Blessing of the Fleet in St. Augustineis a historical ceremony dating back to the city’s earliest days of Spanish colonial occupation. This event typically takes place on Palm Sunday and invites all vessels, commercial and pleasure, to receive a blessing from the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine. All vessels are welcome and encouraged to decorate with flags and bunting as well. The ceremony begins with a procession from the Cathedral Basilica along the Plaza de la Constitución to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. This traditional blessing will then take place at the marina.
Grant, FL: Treasure Coast Marina typically hosts its Blessing of the Fleet festival in April – check here for more details to come.
Destin, FL: The annual Blessing of the Fleet on Destin Harbor typically takes place mid- to late-May. This is one of the oldest traditions along the Emerald Coast and takes place every year at Destin's Fishing Fleet Marina. The Blessing of the Fleet is part of a week-long celebration known as Destin's Week of Blessings.
Panama City, FL:The annual Blessing of the Fleet, Fish Fry, and Burning of the Socks is typically held at the St. Andrews Marina in late April. Proceeds of this event benefit Second Chance of Northwest Florida, a local non-profit organization that provides services to brain injury survivors and their family in the community.
Chicago, IL:The Blessing of the Fleet typically takes place on Navy Pier to coincide with National Maritime Day.
Harbor Springs, MI: The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society's Annual Blessing of the Fleet typically takes place the first weekend in July! The event features a boat parade on Little Traverse Bay, to launch the summer season in Harbor Springs. All watercraft are welcome, including kayaks and paddle boards.
Gig Harbor, WA: The Blessing of the Fleet typically takes place on day two of the Maritime Gig Festival in early/mid-June, which features a grand parade, 5K run, local food vendors, and much more!
Seattle, WA: The Annual Blessing of the Fleet typically place at the Fishermen’s Memorial site at Fishermen’s Terminal – date TBD.
Oak Harbor, WA: Opening Day on the Bay will take place Saturday, May 1, 2021 (see flier) – thanks to Dockwa Boater Dan N. for the heads up!
Bodega Bay, CA: The annual Blessing of the Fishing Fleetis the highlight of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival, which typically takes place the first weekend of May. The traditional annual blessing of the fishing fleet is an important observance for the entire community and acknowledges the key role of those who farm the seas, often at great risk to themselves.
Canyon Lake, CA:Canyon Lake Yacht Club invites all Canyon Lake registered boats to participate in the first annual Canyon Lake Blessing of the Boats. This event typically coincides with the symbolic Opening Day of Boating Season on the lake in mid-April.