Blessing of the Boats in Whitby
Posted on 27th June 2017 at 16:18
We're so lucky here at the Riviera Guest House ...
Not only do we have a sensational sea view, enjoy sparkling blue skies and have the Whalebone Arch just a few metres away ... we can also hear the sounds of the seaside: the seagulls; the sound of the pleasure boats chugging in and out of the harbour; a boisterous sea breeze on hot, sunny days!
Yet we never forget our ties to the countless tides that sweep in and out of the nearby beaches, and we always remember the many men and women who make a living from the sea.
Paying homage to this dangerous yet evocative industry is the Blessing of the Boats, taking place on Sunday 9th July at 4pm in Whitby Harbour.
Straddling the mighty River Esk, which flows into the turbulent North Sea, our lovely town is testament to its incredible history.
Clusters of fisherman’s cottages nestle alongside elegant Georgian town houses; narrow streets and yards lead visitors over the cobbles to the bustling, busy harbour. With many connections to whaling and exploration, the maritime history of Whitby is fascinating.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the shipping industry in Whitby thrived: shipbuilding, shipyards, chandlery, roperies and sail yards thronged the waterside.
Whitby-built boats often used the ‘cat’ design: distinctive, sturdy boats with flat bottoms, used by explorers such as James Cook and William Scoresby.
Yet building a ship is just the start of its journey: after her launch, the vessel has to be crewed and it is considered a dangerous career choice.
At the behest of tides, wind, fog, snow and all other peculiarities Mother Nature can throw at them, sailors and seamen are brave souls, aware they are taking risks to catch our haddock or shellfish.
While you might or might not be of a religious ‘turn’, the traditional Blessing of the Boats service is one seafarers and landlubbers alike attend.
Usually carried out by the Bishop of Whitby (the Venerable Paul Ferguson), this is a key date in the local maritime calendar.
Recognising the dangers and perils of the sea is a sobering thought when you tuck into your fish and chips, and is a reminder that Whitby is a great maritime town, proud of its coastal connections.
Tagged as: Blessing of the Boats
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