Bless­ing of the fleet rit­ual for beer glory

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FLOOD CRISIS -

ON the wa­ter - or at least very close to it - is the place to be this Aus­tralia Day as the boat­ing fra­ter­nity gath­ers at the Port Dou­glas Com­bined Club for its “rit­ual” bless­ing of the fleet and race around Low Isles.

Yachts, tin­nies, outrig­ger ca­noes, com­mer­cial and recre­ational fish­ing ves­sels, reef boats and crafts of all sizes and de­scrip­tions will as­sem­ble in Dixon’s In­let at 8am to be blessed by Fa­ther Paul Beasley be­fore set­ting off in the an­nual Aus­tralia Day race.

The win­ner will emerge with a cov­eted “seat on the wall” to be mounted at the Com­bined Club along­side the names of the 48 pre­vi­ous boats and skip­pers to have won hand­i­cap hon­ours over the long and colour­ful his­tory of the race.

Ac­cord­ing to time-hon­oured tra­di­tion, the vic­to­ri­ous skip­per will be en­ti­tled to a “free pot of XXXX Gold” at the club ev­ery day for a year.

Com­bined Club act­ing man­ager Michelle Hopkins says the race tests the skill, ex­pe­ri­ence and lo­cal knowl­edge of skip­pers who must bat­tle against the clock and hand­i­cap times based on the av­er­age speed of their ves­sels. Ves­sels can nom­i­nate un­til 4pm Tues­day, with the race brief­ing to take place at 5pm.

Mean­while, non-boat­ies will gather on the deck to en­joy the spec­ta­cle of the bless­ing which is based on a Greek Ortho­dox tra­di­tion of “throw­ing the cross” at the start of the fish­ing sea­son.

Or­gan­iser Janet Goodall said bless­ing had de­vel­oped over the past decade, with a few adap­ta­tions to suit lo­cal con­di­tions.

“We couldn’t very well throw the cross into the wa­ter here among the crocs and things so we hose the fleet in­stead with a big fire hose,” she said.

“It’s a nice touch for the start of the fish­ing sea­son, to let them know they’re ap­pre­ci­ated. It’s not an easy lot to work at sea.”

The bless­ing is fol­lowed by morn­ing tea at 9.30am and a fun-filled fam­ily day fea­tur­ing mu­sic by res­i­dent lar­rikins Fashion Tips For Trac­tors, Aussie Day games, a Lions Club sausage siz­zle and lots of prizes. All pro­ceeds go di­rectly to lo­cal projects in line with the club’s com­mu­nity char­ter.

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