Montauk’s commercial and recreational boats will be blessed and the community will honor the watermen who passed over the bar during the year on Sunday during the traditional Blessing of the Fleet in Montauk Harbor. It starts at 5 p.m.
This year’s ceremony will be the culmination of programs focusing on the Montauk fleet, which begin tonight with a round-table discussion at the Montauk Yacht Club at 6 p.m. Carl Darenberg, an owner of the Montauk Marine Basin, has promised to gather some of Montauk’s more infamous fishermen there to talk about the ones that got away and the ones that didn’t.
Then, on Friday at the yacht club, Capt. Paul Forsberg and the Forsberg family, of the Viking Fleet, will be honored at a dinner starting at 7 p.m.
The Montauk Chamber of Commerce decided to do away with its own harbor festival this year because for the last few years it had almost always been canceled or delayed by rain. “We wanted to concentrate on honoring the old-timers this year,” Laraine Creegan, the chamber’s executive director, said this week.
Hundreds of boats take part in the annual Blessing of the Fleet. As usual, the parade of vessels will pass the Coast Guard cutter Ridley, which will be tied to the commercial dock next to the Gosman complex. On board for the ceremony will be the Rev. Michael Rieder of St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk, the Rev. Ann Miller of the Montauk Community Church, the Rev. Alex Constantine representing the Greek Orthodox Church, and a representative of the Jewish Cener of the Hamptons.
After each boat has been blessed, the cutter will move out of the inlet to stop at the bell buoy in Block Island Sound, where memorial wreaths will be tossed into the water. Members of the families of the seven who died in the last year will be aboard.
This year’s wreaths are for Charles Bradford, Louis Escaler, Capt. Norman Edwards Jr., Larry Bridges, Curtis Briand, Bill Burton, and Ron Brady. A separate wreath is dropped into the sea for those who died in the past.
Other boat captains have been asked to leave their docks from marinas to the south and east in succession, following those who tie up at the commercial dock.
Capt. Frank Braddick will anchor the charter boat Hurry Up in the middle of the harbor to control traffic via V.H.F. radio channel 06. In addition, the Coast Guard’s small boats, East Hampton Town Marine Patrol boats, and state police boats will be on hand to keep order.
Tickets for the dinner tomorrow night at the Montauk Yacht Club can be bought at the chamber office, the Montauk Marine Basin, or at the door. They are $45 and include a glass of wine or beer.
The Viking Fleet got started in Freeport in 1936 by Capt. Forsberg’s father, Capt. Carl Forsberg. It relocated to Montauk in 1951. The fleet has been built up to include three party fishing boats, one high-speed ferry, a commercial fishing vessel, a cruise vessel, and a new boat currently under construction that will be called the Viking Fivestar.