Boaties encouraged to get involved in fleet blessing

GLADSTONE boaties are being encouraged to get involved in the Gladstone Ports Corporation Blessing and Dressing of the Fleet event at the Gladstone Harbour Festival this week.

Mayor Gail Sellers, who first advocated for the return of the colourful event two years ago, said she was pleased to see it again feature on the harbour festival program, which this year extends from April 1-5.

"I am pleased that the event has returned this year as it has strong traditional ties to the festival, and the vibrant colours of the fleet sailing on Gladstone Harbour in front of onlookers has been missed in recent times," Cr Sellers said.

"More vessels are needed and I encourage boat owners to join in the fun and help make the Blessing and Dressing of the fleet a success."

The Blessing and Dressing of the Fleet is an assembly and ceremonial sail past of fishing, sailing, pleasure and speed boats which was a mainstay of the festival until falling from favour in the mid-1990s.

Cr Sellers said participants would compete for prize money in the following categories - Best Dressed Vessel ($300), Best Dressed Crew ($250) and Best Junior Entry ($150).

"This is shaping up to be a fun event for participators and spectators," she said.

The blessing of the fleet is a tradition that dates back to biblical times, and is thought to have originated in Sicily or other Mediterranean fishing communities.

The rite continues to this day in many fishing and boating communities throughout the world.

Participating vessels will follow the lead boat, the MV Jack Mortensen, on a designated Auckland Creek course at 10am on Good Friday.

The best viewing spots for the event are East Shores and Spinnaker Park.

Entry into the Blessing and Dressing of the Fleet event is $10 per vessel, with all proceeds going to the Port Curtis Junior Sailing Club.

Entries must be received by today (March 30).