Bless me! Blair helps rescue a nautical tradition

A BLUSTERY cool wind couldn’t stop the official Blessing of the Fleet from continuing its 77-year-old tradition at the Port Fairy wharf this week. 

Officiated by Ballarat Anglican Bishop Garry Weatherill, the evening consisted of readings by congregation members, sprinkling of holy water on sailing vessels and the throwing of a cross into the water as part of the town’s annual Moyneyana Festival. 

Surrounded by local fishing vessels, the wharf provided the ideal setting for a tradition that began within Mediterranean fishing communities centuries ago.

Historically attended by hundreds of community members, the practice remembers all seagoers who have lost their lives at sea and a blessing from a local priest is meant to ensure fishermen a safe and bountiful season.

Moyneyana Festival chairman Reg Harry said although numbers were down on recent years, he felt the sentiment remained the same.

“Years ago it was a major event and although it waned for some time, we restarted the tradition 12 years ago and hope for it to continue to grow,” Mr Harry said.

This year’s cross was retrieved by local surf life saving member Blair Hetherington who, according to tradition, will now receive 12 months of blessings.

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