No responsible captain wants to be out on the gulf without Jesus, our lord, who can calm the seas and keep the vessel, crew and passengers safe.

At St. Andrew’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church decades ago, it became apparent that it was time to have a blessing for any fishing vessel that wanted to receive one, and Ascension Day was chosen in 1958. If I recall correctly now, all of the owners and captains didn’t come for reasons of their own, but when they could see how the lord was blessing those who did, they put away their objections and were soon falling in line to be blessed as well.

I was young then and my memory isn’t as keen for at that time I was a cadet at Sewanee Military Academy in Tennessee. It seems to me we had a break where we could come home for a spring break, but I can’t swear it was during this time. I’ve been at most since then, for in 1963 Joan and I graduated from FSU and made Destin our home where we were members of St. Andrews. The spring was a great time in Destin and soon more and more folks were showing up to take advantage of the great fishing here. Not only that, but Easter was a joyous time where the winter “blues” were in our rearview mirrors and the sights and sounds of a great season was before us.

My mom and dad began their fishing operation as soon as the Destin bridge was completed in 1934. My mom told me how difficult it was to make a living then for none were coming here to fish like they do now from all over the world.

My father was blessed during a hurricane that was surely going to kill him and his small crew as they fought against the sea and the gale force winds. The lord spoke to him … telling him to "Turn the boat around," and my dad obeyed, causing him to live for God as never before. It was obvious to any who cared to see it ... this life-changing impact, so my dad was very much in favor of the blessing. His brother Dave also had deep sea fishing vessels and he and his wife, Aunt Stella, saw God’s blessings were necessary.

It’s amazing now some 60 years later that the line of vessels includes anyone who can safely drive their boat by the pier where almighty God is being asked to bring his blessings of protection and abundant catches. He is more than faithful to grant it to those who truly trust him for it.

Destin is now known all over the world for its beautiful water, white sandy beaches and Florida’s largest charter fishing fleet … all thanks to our God, who keeps blessing us.

Capt. Ben Marler, a longtime Destin resident, fisherman, "fisher of men" and author of “Old Destin Through the Eyes of a Child,” “4 o’clock in the morning,” and “I Am Not Ashamed of Jesus,” can be reached at captben61@gmail.com or on Facebook.