Story and Photos
By Katie McFadden
It’s officially boating season! On Saturday, June 3, the United Inter Yacht Clubs Association (UIYCA) and The Wharf held the annual Blessing of the Fleet to send local ships sailing safely this summer.
Hundreds of boats from nine yacht clubs around the Jamaica Bay area passed by The Wharf late Saturday morning, where UIYCA Commander Hugh Hollingsworth and members of the U.S. Coast Guard gave a salute, while Rev. Joel Youngblood of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Queens and Deacon Chris Wagner of St. Bernard Church in Brooklyn said blessings over each vessel.
The participating clubs included North Channel Yacht Club, Riley’s Yacht Club, Howard Beach Motor Boat Club, Old Mill Yacht Club, Midget Squadron Yacht Club, Diamond Point Yacht Club, Padagate Yacht Club, Hudson River Yacht Club and the Brooklyn Yacht Club. The FDNY also brought out not one, but two, fireboats that sprayed their water cannons as the boats passed by for their blessings.
UIYCA Commander Hollingsworth said it’s all about bringing boaters together. “The whole purpose of our organization is to bring the yacht clubs in the Jamaica Bay area all together and as part of that, we do this blessing every year,” he said.
Joan Brew, whose late husband Richie Brew had served as a commander for more than 15 years, said, “It’s a beautiful thing to see everyone get together and share in a nice thing—blessing the boats for a good boating season.”
“I always look forward to this event because it kind of sets the tone for the season, making sure everyone’s using their boats safely, but also having a little extra guardian angel with them,” Deacon Wagner, a boater himself, said. “Everyone always seems to look forward to today.”