For more than six decades, the Destin fishing fleet has followed in the footsteps of those who have gone before.

And Thursday was no different as 134 boats participated in the 62nd annual Blessing of the Fleet.

“The Blessing of the fleet is a day when we put the rods and reels up and gather together as a family to receive prayer for safety and abundance,” said Capt. Preston Mueller of the Home Grown. “It’s important that we keep these time honored traditions and it makes me happy to see such great participation.”

For Capt. Matthew Pearson of the Vengeance, this year's blessing was special.

“It was something I always looked forward to doing when I got my own boat,” Pearson said.

This past year, Pearson bought his first boat, the Vengeance, and Thursday was his first time to pass through the blessing as captain of his own boat.

“It meant a lot to be a part of such a big tradition in Destin,” Pearson said. “I had my kids and family on the boat … and for them to see it was probably the biggest thing for me.

“I really take it to heart. We need all the blessings we can get,” he added.

The Blessing of the Fleet started more than a half century ago with just a handful of boats. Today the blessing includes everything from water taxis, scuba boats, charter boats to pirate ships.


“We’re carrying on a tradition that started back in 1958,” said the Rev. Caleb Miller of Immanuel Anglican Church, who heads up the church service under the tent each year.

Miller said the original idea behind the blessing was a “desire to bless the people who make their living on the seas. I think it’s something very biblical … to pray for the city in which you live.”

Prior to the actual blessing of the boats, more than 100 folks gathered under the tent at the Fishing Fleet Marina for a worship service led by Miller.

Miller recognized William Frank Davis and Dale Allen, who have served as the commodores for the Blessing of the Fleet for more than 50 years.

After a time of singing and a personal testimony from local captain Dave Dewberry of Pelican Charters, the Rev. Mike Hesse, also of Immanuel, brought a brief sermon that encouraged all those in attendance to be a bold witness.

After a few songs, members of the local clergy spoke blessings over individual captains and families as they so desired.

Then they proceeded down to the docks for the blessing of the boats.

Following the blessing, a feast and fellowship took place under the tent.