The Blessing Of The Fleet – Reedville VA

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Part of the parade into the service

This past weekend while the gang was all over the world reporting in from Texas, Washington State, New Jersey and even Monte Carlo, we were right at home in Reedville VA, our wonderful home on the Bay. This web stuff is mind blowing sometimes. I recall a time when we thought that technology would make life less personal. And yet, we are all making pals across the planet. Amazing stuff. One of the main reasons that we were not zipping around all over the place was because of the Annual blessing of the fleet in Reedville. It’s a church service held at the old Fish stack that the community just rebuilt.

A church service on the water!


The stack represents the rich culture and history of the area. Reedville is still a working fishing village. In fact, I think its the second largest fishing port in the US next to some town in Alaska. If your wife uses Omega fish oils. Look on the back of the box.. Reedville VA..

a part of the Omega Protein fleet, not wood by the way, there are spotter planes, all very very cool stuff.

The town is frozen in time. IN A GOOD WAY! Stunning homes from the 1920’s that line the water, and small coves in protected waters. Everyone gets around by boat. Like a lake, but with the freedom to take off and go as far as you like.  Most of the folks that live there are full timers, waterman and retired couples. This weekend is very special in the area because the blessing its a ritual that has been going on for decades. Waterman and regular folks like yours truly all go out into the mouth of the Great Wicomico and gather. Then parade back in to the Stack and the service starts. Seems rather simple. And it is, in a true Virginia understated way.

A small part of the parade

Yet deep in emotion and respect for the water and the summers future harvest. By the way.. this is going to be an amazing year if you love crabs..

Note the tiller steering, very cool stuff

As a wood boat lover it’s especially moving, since 80% of the boats are made from wood. Old and new Deadrise fishing boats. Buyboats, Small wood skiffs, still being built by local folks like Randy Cockrell, and George Butler. It’s real here, authentic, this is no re-enactment, or show for tourists. It’s a way of life that is self sustaining that has been going on for over a century. As I travel around the country I am always in search for rituals and things that embody the location that are real, and built over time, and ring true to the area. I can not imagine a more wonderful way to start out the boating season than with this Bleesing of the fleet.

13 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Does the expectation of a bountiful crab season mean you will be dusting off your 11 inch crab skiff and joining the harvest?

  2. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    A wonderful tradition! The newly rebuilt stack is very cool and it should make it easier to find home, especially if it is lit at night.

    Maybe Paul should consider having his fleet of boats & truck blessed in a similar ceremony!

  3. matt
    matt says:

    the stack at night is amazing. Its lit, and lights up the sky. Also fireworks and such make it very cool

  4. Rick
    Rick says:

    After an absence of a few years our marina is again having a Blessing Of The Fleet again, though not as large as yours. Live music, food, Chaplain and participation of the Police and CG which sends Safe Boats over. A time for all sorts of boaters to get together, commercial and private alike. Lots of fun and it will also coincide with the annual shark tournement.

  5. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    Beautiful photos of the event! I’d love to read more about those traditional wooden deadrise fishing boats- I just started studying them in depth yesterday. They seem to be beautifully designed for their specific purpose, and there’s quite a bit of charm in their lines. How about a write-up with more photos, and perhaps an interview with a proud waterman or two?

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    After the service / ceremony, do all the boats sound their horns? That would be cool to watch and hear. Thanks for the neat story.

  7. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    A truely moving story about a really special place. that is why I ALWAYS sign out as:

    John in VA!!!

  8. Tom
    Tom says:

    Thanks for posting these pics. Brings back a flood of memories for me having lived on the bay up on the Shady Side peninsula for 20 years. Also, as a direct descendent of Guineamen of Gloucester I basically grew up in the culture. Thanks again. Tom

  9. Mike Keefer
    Mike Keefer says:

    Hi, i own a 1954 deadrise built in Reedville by George P Butler, and i’m trying to figure out the weight for trailering her to her new home in Reedville, as she is currently floating at the York River Yacht Haven in Glouc. Point. She is 24 & a half foot long with a beam of 8′ 6″. Any help or direction you could point me in would be great and thanks for your time.

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