Since 1849: “Blessing Of The Boats”

June 5, 2011

A Bermudian tradition that dates back to 1849 took place this morning [June 5], when Rev David Raths was rowed from St George’s to St David’s, and blessed boats that had gathered.

bermuda blessing of boats june 11 (5)

The service was held at the Black Horse Dock, with Rev David Raths being rowed across by members of the St George’s based TS Admiral Somers Sea Cadets. Rev Raths commented on how ‘quick’ the ride was, and the Sea Cadets received praise for their service from those in attendance.

bermuda blessing of boats june 11 (2)bermuda blessing of boats june 11 (3)

The traditional Blessing of the Boats arises from the long established connection of the people of St David’s with the fishing and boat-pilot occupation and dates to 1849 when the Chapel of Ease was consecrated.

There were no bridges or land links between St David’s and the rest of the Island at that time, so Bishop Field was rowed across the harbour by four sons of clergymen who volunteered for the service.

Many boats were in evidence that day as the Bishop passed through their midst waving and giving his blessing, an act which started the annual tradition.

To commemorate that occasion, and as part of the long association with the seafarers of St David’s, the Chapel of Ease holds the annual service.

Boats made their way to the Black Horse Dock this morning, and each boat in attendance was blessed and received a Certificate of Blessing saying, “Bless o lord this vessel and all who sail in her; may she be a trustworthy and safe servant.”

bermuda blessing of boats june 11 (1)

During the service officiated by Rev’d David Raths, Dylan Holshouser served as the Crucifer, while Beulah Foggo and Heidi Roque read, and band members of the St George’s Corps of the Salvation Army provided the music . After the service, a codfish breakfast was held at the Black Horse Tavern.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Bda Pilot says:

    Very nice to see maritime tradition being kept in Bermuda. Hope this prevails in the forthcoming years.

  2. Bluto says:

    This is a very cool Bermuda tradition/custom. One day I’d really like to be there to get my li-lo blessed ..

  3. mixitup says:

    cool – in all my life I’ve never heard of this in Bermuda

  4. Bermudian@heart.. says:

    cool tradition..? never heard of it before..

    • folks

      This tradition has been going on for the past 25-30 years.. I used to row in it as well. Now being the Commander of the Corps


      • Black Soil says:

        Nice work Officer Trott. We need guys like you to swell the ranks of our navel cadets and Corps. We should also congratulate officers like yourself who have put so many years into our naval academy.