First Algoma Blessing of the Fleet set for June 22, two years after marina fire
ALGOMA – Almost two years ago, a raging fire in Algoma Marina damaged at least five boats, three of which sank.
On the upcoming eve of that inferno, one of the people dramatically affected by it wants not only ask for divine guidance to protect vessels and boaters, but also recognize the fire and rescue personnel who saved lives and prevented the damages from being much worse.
The first Blessing of the Fleet ceremony in Algoma will take place at 7 p.m. June 22 at Sunrise Cove Marina, 70 Church St. Such blessings are an old Mediterranean fishing tradition meant to ensure a safe and bountiful fishing season. All are welcome to attend, whether boaters or those who want to watch from land.
The event was created by Troy Mattson of Kinn’s Sport Fishing, a charter fishing service that suffered severe losses to four boats during the fire.
Mattson wants to give “recognition to the Algoma Fire and Rescue as they saved the lives of several crew members, other boaters, and all the vessels in the marina," he said in a press release. "Many ports around the world start their fishing season with a ceremony like this and I think it is only fitting that we do this in the legendary fishing port of Algoma.”
The fire started sometime in the late night of June 22 or the early morning hours of June 23, 2016, according to news reports of the time; it was called in around midnight. Firefighters battled the blaze throughout the night, with the U.S. Coast Guard also on hand to help with fuel leaks and other environmental issues from the fire.
Algoma Mayor Wayne Schmidt said he hopes the ceremony makes boaters aware of staying safe on the water as the recreational season kicks into gear. He will give a special boat safety proclamation from the city as one of the events leading up to the blessing.
“The fishing industry is an important part of the city’s economy," Schmidt said in the press release. "Along with the sport fishing there has been an increase in pleasure boating and kayaking. On average, 650 people die each year in boating-related accidents in the US. It is a goal of the city to make sure that people practice safe boating habits.”
Boaters are asked to line up in the Ahnapee River starting at 6:30 p.m. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. on the shore of Sunrise Cove Marina with the national anthem, followed by the proclamation from Schmidt and the presentation of a Wisconsin Assembly citation signed by Gov. Scott Walker and presented by Rep. Joel Kitchens.
At approximately 7:25, the Coast Guard will escort the head boat out into Lake Michigan beyond the break walls. Other boaters are asked to follow and circle around the head boat to receive the blessing, which will be given by the Rev. Christopher Jackson of St. Jon's Evangelical Lutheran Church. The blessing will be broadcast on marine band radio and arrangements are being made to make the blessing available for those on land.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer boat safety checks from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sunrise Cove, and its Coastie the Tugboat mascot will be on hand until 7.
Preceding the blessing is a trout boil beginning at 5 p.m. at Sunrise Cove and continuing while supplies last; proceeds from the boil go to Algoma Fire and Rescue. The marina also will have live music by the Charlie Bucket Band from 5 to 9 p.m. and a deejay starting at 9.
For more information, go to visitalgomawi.com/blessing.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: First Algoma Blessing of the Fleet set for June 22, two years after marina fire