2012-06-23 at 16:39
Reverand Ed Swayze blesses the fleet on Saturday at Pier 3 in Thunder Bay, sprinkling water on the passing Flying Circus and her crew.
Need Xtra Cash? Visit Xtra Cash!For payday advances and cheque cashing, there's no better option than XTRA CASH! Best rates, no holds, and instant Cash!Click here for full list of services
Asking God to watch out for seafaring vessels in the region is an age-old tradition.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.
On Saturday, after throwing flower petals into Lake Superior, Reverand Ed Swayze did just that, performing the annual blessing of the fleet for a crowd of 20 and several sailboats that took part in the late-morning ceremony.
Swayze, a chaplain with the Mission of Seafarers, said going to sea is dangerous.
“If you fall overboard in Lake Superior, you’re going to get hypothermia and drown. When there’s a violent storm you could get hit by something onboard the boat. You can fall overboard while at sea in a violent storm,” Swayze said.
“Equipment can break, vessels can collide and there’s loss of life at sea. While we rely on ourselves to maintain our vessels and to practice good seamanship, nonetheless we’re looking for God to help us make sure things go well, that our training is good, that our maintenance is good.”
It’s also about asking God to help face challenges that arise in life and on the water.
“This is something we’re asking blessing for,” he said. “It’s a very ancient custom because going to sea is dangerous. A number of faiths practice this, and of course the Christian faith does as well.”
Celebrating the port and its health is part of the ceremony as well, he added.
“We’ve got an excellent port here in Thunder Bay and we hope to draw people’s attention to the fact that this is something worth celebrating and participating in,” said Swayze, who arrived on board his own boat, the Blue Angel, and marked the ceremony with the blessing of the harbourmaster’s boat.
Representatives from the coast guard and Royal Canadian Navy are also usually on hand for the blessing, but were unavailable on Saturday morning.
Nonetheless, Lt.-Cmdr. Les Newman said the historic event goes back hundreds of years to a time when so much of people’s lives was conducted on the water.
“In the beginning it was fishermen and transporting goods,” Newman said. “And bringing God’s blessing to people who work on the waters, I think most of us who do go onto the water know how unpredictable and dangerous it can be. So asking every little bit of help does come in handy.”
Click here to report a typo or error