Bless you!

A LARGE fleet is expected at the blessing of the boats after the Gazette intervened to raise support for the ceremony.

There had been fears that with the fishing fleet away from port and the yacht club stranded in the Upper Harbour, that no boats would actually be able to attend the ceremony.

However Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), who operate the bridge, have agreed to an extra 3pm opening that will now allow members of Whitby Yacht Club and other marina users to attend the ceremony, conducted from Whitby’s Fish Pier.

Julia Drake, vice-commodore of the yacht club, said: “It is really great that this year Whitby Yacht Club and other marina users will have the opportunity to take part in the annual blessing of the boats.

“There was a fear that many boats would have to miss out on this important and highly respected tradition because of the lack of a scheduled bridge opening.”

The ceremony takes place at 2.30pm on Sunday 10 July, but there was to be no bridge opening after the ceremony until 5pm.

Mrs Drake added: “This would have left the boats stranded in the lower harbour all afternoon, unable to return to their moorings in the upper harbour.

“The news of a special bridge opening is very welcome indeed, and we are thankful to all those involved in making it possible.

“Many boat skippers can now look forward to helping create a spectacular scene with the lower harbour full of boats in readiness for the blessing.

“Although this was traditionally a ceremony to ensure the safety of the fishing fleet, the fleet of leisure craft are no less aware of the dangers of the sea and the need for care and vigilance.”

Brian Bennett, SBC’s head of tourism and cultural services, said: “The council is pleased to be able to accommodate the request for an additional opening of the bridge for this traditional annual event.”

Bryan Clarkson, of the Esk Belle II, also plans to lay on a special service to allow people to get a better view of the event.

He said: “We are going to use the Esk Belle as a venue for the event and passengers will be quite close to it so they’ll have a brilliant view.

“We’re going to donate £1 from every fare towards the RNLI and the Fishermen’s Mission.”