Water Festival ends with Blessing of the Fleet

By Jaime Dailey - bio | email

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - The Blessing of the Fleet, it's a traditional ceremony held each year on the Beaufort River.

"The blessing is to evoke God's protection and all of those who use boats in their line of work or pleasure that they be productive in this work, that they be guided safely and that they be safe while sailing," said Father Timothy Tebalt, St. Peter's Catholic Church.

On the last day of Water Festival, many gathered around the sea wall at Waterfront Park as Father Timothy with blessed several shrimp boats and recreational boats.

"It's a great honor and privilege and it's a very common practice along sea port towns for the fleet to be blessed once a year," said Father Timothy.

For many of the shrimpers like Craig Reaves with the Gracie Belle, this is an annual tradition, he's taken part in for years, hoping for a safe and successful season on the water.

"The blessing is an important part," said Reaves. "We know and understand we're already blessed every day that we're able to get up and go to work in the ocean and be harvesters and that is a privilege."

After all of the boats are blessed, each passes by the crowd one more time for the boat parade.

As part of the tradition, next year's Commodore Bob Bible and his wife Colleen made their debut on the water.

"It starts the next year," said past Commodore Richard Norris. "A great ending for the 2010 and then Bob and Colleen will start the 2011 Water Festival by waiving at the crowd and being recognized as the Commodore and first lady of 2011, which will be the 56th annual Beaufort Water Festival."

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