A fine day for a special Blessing

THE 21st Blessing of the Fleet on Sunday was a huge success, marking 240 years since Lieutenant James Cook sailed through the Whitsundays in 1770.

The annual Blessing of the Fleet is a traditional ceremony combining Christian traditions with the Whitsundays' boating culture.

It is timed to coincide with Whitsunday, or Pentecost Sunday, when James Cook sailed through and named the Whitsunday Passage.

The blessing is held early on Pentecost Sunday at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.

A Christian blessing is given to the local yachts and power craft so they may have a safe and prosperous year.

This year, the Anglican Bishop of North Queensland Bill Ray officiated.

He was assisted by Father Chris Yule, from Whitsunday Parish.

Organiser Cap'n Dan Van Blarcom, who founded the event with Father Keith Felgate, now retired, said it had been a good day with dozens of boats turning up.

“It was nice, light weather – just a gentle sailing breeze,” he said.

The blessing also marked the start of the Whitsunday winter sailing season.

“We had spectators from Mackay and Townsville and a lot of local parents, as there was a training weekend at the sailing club,” Mr Van Blarcom said.

“It was good to see a lot of young people sailing and participating. The safety boats were all decked out with flags, it looked great.”

Mr Van Blarcom said while the blessing was a Christian ceremony, the event was for everyone.

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