Blessing ‘a success’

Blessing of the boats
Blessing of the boats
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THE Blessing of the Boats ceremony took place on Sea Sunday and was hailed a success as onlookers lined Whitby harbourside to watch.

Martin Warner, the Bishop of Whitby, conducted the ceremony, held at 2.30pm on the Fish Quay, near the lifeboat station.

Blessing of the boats

Blessing of the boats

He said: “The blessing of the boats is a very important ceremony about the significance of boats for Whitby and its heritage.

“The key thing is that this not something that’s simply a tourist attraction, this is about people’s livelihoods.”

The service was created to bless the herring fleet from Scotland, but since those vessels ceased visiting, the blessing has been delivered to Whitby’s own fishing fleet and the lifeboat crews.

Although the fishing fleet were at sea, either trawling or on guard duty for the oil rigs, the lifeboat station was able to host the ceremony.

Blessing of the boats

Blessing of the boats

Proceedings were almost disrupted by the poor weather, but coxwain Mike Russell was pleased the rain managed to stop for the service’s duration.

He added: “It was looking a bit suspect and had been raining torrentially, so we had set up the chairs inside, but it held out over the ceremony itself and we managed to get the Bishop outside so everyone could see him.

“It was a success in general and we had lots of people throughout the boathouse, so we were really pleased with it, considering the weather.”

In addition to Whitby RNLI’s two vessels, Staithes’ Atlantic 25 lifeboat was able to attend.

Blessing of the boats

Blessing of the boats

The Esk Belle made a special trip, mooring up beside the quay and allowing passengers to take part in the service from its top deck.

Whitby’s old lifeboat, the Mary Ann Hepworth, also paused during a boat trip, but the most colourful to attend were Whitby’s Yacht Club, who moored up at the end of the quay with full regalia on display.

The yacht club had been able to attend due to an extra bridge opening at 3pm, organised by the Whitby Gazette and Scarborough Borough Council.

Julia Drake, vice-commodore, Whitby Yacht Club, said: “Despite the atrocious weather, quite a lot of boats made use of the extra bridge opening to attend the ceremony, and the ceremony itself was so beautiful that even the rain felt obliged to cease its deluge.

Blessing of the boats

Blessing of the boats

“Whitby Yacht Club boat owners felt it was an honour and a privilege to take part in this important annual event.”

Blessing of the boats

Blessing of the boats