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WATCH: Annual blessing of the fleet in Tofino

Local vessels were blessed with Holy Water and prayers were offered to protect those working at sea.
Pastor Jennifer Marlor sprays Holy Water on a local kayak guide during the 12th annual Blessing of the Fleet on March 12 at Tofino’s First Street Dock. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

A traditional maritime blessing of the fleet was held on Monday morning, March 12, at Tofino’s First Street Dock.

About 15 to 20 boats, ships, and kayaks participated in the 12th annual blessing ceremony, which involved getting sprayed with Holy Water by local pastors: Will Howard, Roger Poblete, and Jennifer Marlor.

“This is such a lovely introduction to the culture here. I’m so pleased to be here,” said St.Columba’s new pastor Jennifer Marlor who took up her post in February.

The service opened with members of the Tofino Choir singing the National Anthem. The Sailor’s Psalm 107: 23-31 was then recited by all followed by Prayers read by each chaplain. One read a prayer for the shipping industry, another read a prayer for all those who work at sea, and a third prayer was read as a Thanksgiving for Seafarers.

Steve and Cathy Bernard of the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Society and Method Marine Supply hosted the event. They were happy the service was greeted with sunshine, for a change.

“It was one of the best days I think we’ve had. For a lot of years, we’ve had those March days, you know, were there’s this big cloud and it rains and then it kind of gets sunny and then it rains again,” said Steve.

Cathy said they’ll take the days’ good weather as a good omen for the season.

“We’re starting the season on a high,” Cathy said. “Best wishes for the season ahead to everybody.”

Steve concurred.

“Last spring was rotten until like July so maybe we’ll get a nice run this year. I hope so,” he said.

The parade of sail included: whale watching operators, Canadian Coast Guard, kayak guides, commercial fishing vessels, and search and rescue zodiacs.

“All are welcome,” said Cathy. “Even people with their own pleasure craft.”

The annual Blessing of the Fleet event is part of the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, which runs until March 25. For a complete schedule of events, visit: