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Victor Galeone, Bishop of St. Augustine, assisted by Father Tim Lendenfeldser, offers the traditional Blessing of the Vessels as hundreds of boats pass the St. Augustine Municipal Marina during the Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies on Palm Sunday 2002.

Blessing of the Fleet set for April 4

Since its revival nearly half a century ago, the Blessing of the Fleet will once again be held on Palm Sunday (April 4) on St. Augustine’s beautiful Matanzas Bay. Both pleasure and commercial craft are invited to participate in this ancient ceremony that begins at noon on the south side of the Bridge of Lions as vessels pass the St. Augustine Municipal Marina.

The festive event has its roots in the hopes of those who went to sea for a bountiful shrimp season when St. Augustine’s harbor was filled with fleets of commercial trawlers. Today the tradition continues as those who fish, both commercially and for sport, seek blessings on their vessels for an abundant catch as well those who take to the waterways for recreation who seek safety upon the water and a safe return home.

This event is permitted and regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard. No reservations or entries forms or fees are required. Boaters participate at their own risk and no liability is assumed by any sponsoring organization or governmental agency.

The Blessing, to be offered this year by Father D. Terrence Morgan, Pastor, Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is a traditional one: "May the peace and blessing of the Almighty God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit descend upon these ships and upon all who shall be in them and remain forever."

 

Rules of Procedure
• All boats must be powered.

• Boats will assemble in organized groups no later than 12:00pm (Noon) in the Matanzas River south of the Bridge of Lions. Boats not affiliated with clubs or organizations should join a group of boats, anchor and wait for radio instructions.

• Boats equipped with a marine VHF radio will monitor Channel 68 and wait for instructions. There must be no transmissions on this channel except in the case of an emergency. Boats without radios will stand by boats so equipped to receive verbal information from those skippers.

• The Blessing of the Fleet will be led by an official vessel followed by (a) trawlers and commercial fishing craft, (b) craft over 37 feet and (c) all other craft.

• Boat speed should be set to maintain a close and safe distance from other boats.

• Boats will proceed north toward the Bridge of Lions and then make a wide turn to port to pass directly abreast the end of the Municipal Marina. No wake rules must be observed during the pass by the Municipal Marina.

• After passing the Municipal Marina, boats will continue south. No boat is permitted to go north or through the Bridge of Lions until the completion of the entire ceremony.

• Traffic control boats will be in the area and will assist if requested.
Participants are reminded that this is a solemn occasion and are asked to:

• Avoid loud engine noise, music, raised voices or unseemly conduct;

• Keep beverage containers out of sight and do not discard any trash into the water; and

• While passing the Municipal Marina and receiving the blessing, men should remove hats and all on board should wear shirts or suitable coverings.

 

Trawlers lay at anchor in Matanzas Bay just off the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in this vintage postcard from the 1940’s.

 

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