As you flip through the photos in this article, you’ll need to remind yourself: yes, this is still New York City.
It’s an easy fact to forget on the waters of Jamaica Bay and, just outside the Rockaway inlet, the Atlantic Ocean. Homes seem few and far between. Greenery is lush. And, oh, the quiet is so… quiet.
But on a clear, sunny day like June 24, the day of the 26th Annual Blessing of the Fleet, the Freedom Tower and Manhattan skyline loom in the background, an impressive reminder of place.
The Blessing of the Fleet is an annual tradition in which all of Sheepshead Bay’s yacht and boating club members converge in the open waters, sail through the Bay, and past the Emmons Avenue yacht clubs. There, leaders of various faiths dole out wishes of good fortune and safety to more than 100 participating vessels.
The ceremony has centuries-old roots, originating in Catholic fishing villages in Europe to receive blessings of safe passages and good fortune for working fishermen and other seafarers. Though these days boats have motors (and, in fact, the Sheepshead Bay ceremonies require all boats to use motors only), and the participants are more likely to be recreational boaters than working sea-dogs, the purpose has changed little.
As each club – Miramar, Varuna Boat Club, Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club, Deep Creek Yacht Club and Excelsior Yacht Club – passes through the mouth of the Bay, a cannon fires, ripping through the peaceful air, signifying the next in line for blessing.
Each year the event is hosted by a different local club, responsible for throwing a barbecue and party afterwards, and this year it was Excelsior Yacht Club’s (1902 Shore Parkway) turn, one of two member clubs not based in Sheepshead Bay.
Members of Miramar Yacht Club (3050 Emmons Avenue) were kind enough to invite Sheepshead Bites aboard, after our reporters got some training at the club’s Seek & Sail event. After our tour through the Bay, our entertainingly grouchy captain took us out to the open waters, where we got to take some fantastic photos of the Southern Brooklyn shoreline – an angle we landlubbers rarely see.
Thank you to Miramar Yacht Club for the opportunity. We also need to give a belated thanks to Deep Creek Yacht Club, who last year brought us aboard for the event; unfortunately, technical problems caused us not to publish the story but we want to publicly express our gratitude.