Yacht rock is a genre of music that has been making a comeback in recent years, especially with boaters who love to listen to soft rock music from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. The backstory of how yacht rock came about is fascinating and involves writers creating a tongue-in-cheek video series, a band that was looking for a spark, and an internet radio executive who saw the potential of the genre.
In 2005, a group of young music and TV comedy writers created a short video series called "Yacht Rock" for the internet film network Channel 101. The series imagined funny backstories behind the making of soft rock classics by musicians such as Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and Hall & Oats. The writers wanted to poke fun at the music while also reintroducing the tunes they liked to a new generation. The series became one of the channel's top shows during its run from 2005 to 2010.
In the fall of 2007, the Atlanta-based pop band Y-O-U was looking for inspiration. Drummer Mark Cobb burned a CD of songs by old soft-rock artists such as Christopher Cross, America, and Little River Band and thought it might be kind of fun to play the songs at a show. The band dressed in '70s fashion and played soft rock music, which turned out to be a hit. They formed the Yacht Rock Revue in 2008, the country's first official yacht rock tribute band, and even trademarked the term "yacht rock."
Yacht rock has some serious staying power and can be found on various platforms such as SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Yacht rock tribute bands, such as Yachty by Nature, Thurston Howell Band, Three Sheets to the Wind, and The Docksiders, have also proliferated. Yacht rock is enjoyed by people of all ages and has become a festive audience favorite, with some attendees donning yachting caps and '70s attire at concerts.
Here’s a yacht rock sampler from Philadelphia’s Boat House Row guaranteed to float your boat.
“Baker Street” – Gerry Rafferty
“Southern Cross” – Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Baby Come Back” – Player
“Reminiscing” – Little River Band
“How Long” – Ace
“Rich Girl” – Hall & Oats
“Heart to Heart” – Kenny Loggins
“Reelin’ in the Years” – Steely Dan
“Brandy” – Looking Glass
“What a Fool Believes” – Doobie Brothers
“Still the One” – Orleans
“Africa” – Toto
“Turn Your Love Around” – George Benson
“Ride Like the Wind” – Christopher Cross
“Lovely Day” – Bill Withers
As we welcome the arrival of spring, boaters are eager to christen the new season with activities ranging from a fresh coat of paint on the hull to a thorough inspection or a bottle of bubbly with glasses held high. But across the country, some seaside communities celebrate their return to the water with The Blessing of the Fleet, a ritual that turns to the heavens to safeguard mariners, pray for a bountiful catch and remember those who were lost at sea.
The ceremony dates back to ancient times and finds its roots in Mediterranean fishing villages. European colonization spread the practice around the globe, and Catholic immigrants brought the tradition to America about 300 years ago. During the 20th century, it became more widespread along North American oceans, rivers, lakes and bays, and other denominations absorbed the rite into their services.
The basic elements of the Blessing of the Fleet are quite simple: a priest or pastor offers prayers and a sprinkling of holy water to a variety of vessels including working boats, rescue vessels, trawlers, recreational craft, tugboats and even dinghies. Often in attendance are members of the Coast Guard in uniform, Knights of Columbus with their pointy hats and sabers, church choirs singing hymns and other groups.
Most Blessings of the Fleet take place in spring to kick off the fishing or shrimping season. Others are linked to religious holidays such as the Epiphany or Easter. Some Portuguese and Italian communities celebrate on Mother’s Day to honor Our Lady of Fatima and decorate the base of her statue with red flowers for living mothers and white blooms for the deceased. An anchor made of red and white blossoms is tossed into the sea in remembrance of those who perished beneath the waves.
A mass often kicks off the festivities, followed by a processional of officiants and the faithful from the church to the waterfront where an armada of boats is waiting to receiveblessings. Colorful flags, lights, streamers, banners, pendants and more decorate the fleet as they parade through the water. Friends and family line the shore, waving, cheering, singing, drinking and feasting.
No two Blessings of the Fleet are the same. What makes them especially interesting and unique are the size of the seaside communities and the religion, culture, history, traditions and heritage of their people. Some small towns like somber, intimate ceremonies with only a handful of vessels and watermen receiving prayers. Others prefer a more boisterous celebration with thousands of well-wishers gathered for food, music, games, pageants, fairs, fish fries, races and lavish after parties. Many are attached to other regional maritime festivals such as seafood or holiday events.
If you’d like to witness a Blessing of the Fleet this season or join one and let your boat receive good thoughts for safe journeys, see the following list for some of our favorites across the country. Or contact your local marina to find out if a blessing event is taking place near you.
Tarpon Springs, FL
Every year on the day before the Epiphany, priests from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral bless the sponge boats and divers and remember those who lost their lives. Part of the ceremony includes tossing a cross into the water and young men jumping in and competing to retrieve it.
March 12 (second Sunday in March)
Hosted at this historic landmark and the oldest structure on the Detroit waterfront, Mariners’ Church has been a place of worship for seamen from around the Great Lakes since 1842. The annual ceremony invites boaters to bring their burgees, colors and pennants to receive blessings for safe passage, calm waters and fair weather on their nautical journeys.
Since 1987 when the memorial was dedicated, waters from the Seven Seas and Great Lakes are ceremoniously poured into outdoor fountains at the memorial with a blessing to protect sailors, ships and crew.
Mount Pleasant, SC
As tribute to the shrimp and fishing industry, the event presents a boat parade, ceremonial blessing of the vessels, shad and shrimp eating contest, art exhibits, food and crafts vendors, and family activities in Charleston Harbor.
Sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce, with blessings from the clergy from St. Paul’s Church and Mother of Sorrows Church, this 34th anniversary event aims to shield from misfortune ships, planes, water taxis and other service-related boats and aircraft.
This festival celebrates the regional shrimp and fishing industry by offering prayer to safeguard local vessels and fishermen. Festivities include a morning boat parade, live music, food trucks, craft vendors, beer garden and other activities along the Wilmington waterfront.
Four days of music, parades, food, dancing, games and more celebrate Portuguese culture and seafaring heritage and offer a blessing by the bishop to decorated boats and their crew.
The local Italian-American fishing community’s annual celebration honors the patron saint of fishermen with a parade, live music, road and boat races, Blessing of the Fleet, children’s activities, mass and a greasy pole contest (costumed contestants try to pull a red flag off the end of a heavily lubricated pole before falling into the water).
Boothbay Harbor, ME
Part of the Windjammer Days Festival, local residents remember those in the maritime industry who lost their lives to the sea and others who still earn their living on the water. The boat parade honors commercial fishing vessels.
Attended by almost 30,000 people annually, this three-day festival includes a parade of boats, 10-mile road race, music, beer tent, food vendors, rides, and more.
Morgan City, LA
August 31 to September 4
To toast the shrimping and oil industry, this huge celebration features boat and street parades, blessing ceremony, a pageant to coronate the festival king and queen, a children’s village, 5k run, art show, carnival rides, fireworks, food and more.
Coltons Point, MD
Near the point where the Arc and Dove ships landed in 1634 carrying Catholic passengers avoiding persecution in England, the blessing of the boats of Southern Maryland’s watermen takes place with festivities such as exhibitions, food and craft vendors, boat rides, music, and fireworks.St. Clement’s Island Museum Blessing of the Fleet Coltons Point, MD October 7-8 Near the point where the Arc and Dove ships landed in 1634 carrying Catholic passengers avoiding persecution in England, the blessing of the boats of Southern Maryland’s watermen takes place with festivities such as exhibitions, food and craft vendors, boat rides, music, and fireworks.
To sail around the world is an ultimate endurance test and a dream that has for centuries tempted explorers, adventurers and those who love sailing. Ferdinand Magellan was the first maritime globe trotter, and he gets all the credit — even though he didn’t finish the journey.
During a skirmish with natives in the Philippines, he was shot by a poisoned arrow and left by his crew to die. His navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano then captained the Victoria, a 31-foot, 85-ton ship with a crew of 45 men back to Spain in September of 1522, three years after Magellan led his flotilla of five ships westward across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new route to the Spice Islands.
In September of 2022, Ellen Magellan set off down the Trinity River in East Texas in the Evelyn Mae, a 22-foot, carbon fiber rowboat outfitted with two cabins and a solar power generator, on her way to the Gulf of Mexico in the first leg of an audacious, seven-year attempt to row a boat solo around the world. At the age of 27, Ellen seeks to raise awareness of the state of the ocean and promote the notion that it’s okay for women to travel alone and experience life-changing experiences.
Will Magellan complete her journey? Who knows. But, inspired by her passion, Marinalife presents the stories of eight trailblazing women who circumnavigated the globe via boat in their own ways, taking on a challenge historically reserved mainly for men.
JEANNE BARET of France became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, albeit without knowing it. Jeanne disguised herself as a man to illegally accompany her botanist lover as part of a French Navy scientific voyage looking for exotic plants. Women weren’t allowed on Navy boats. In Brazil, it is believed she discovered a new exotic flowering vine and named it Bougainvillea in honor of Louis de Bougainville, who headed the around-the-world expedition. Her identity was eventually discovered in Tahiti where some historians claim she was sexually assaulted by her crewmates. Baret and her lover Philibert Commerson were later left behind in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean as the expedition continued. On Mauritius, they befriended the governor, an avid botanist, and studied the flora of the region. When Commerson died, Baret married a Frenchman and together they returned unceremoniously to France three years after Baret’s journey began, thus completing the around the world journey. Bougainville later arranged for Jeanne to receive a Navy pension in recognition of her contributions on the exhibition.
NELLIE BLY was an American investigative journalist widely known for going undercover to report the terrible conditions of a New York City insane asylum. In 1888, she began what would be a 72-day trip around the world via steamship, horse and railroad to emulate Jules Verne’s popular fictional character Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days. She was the first person to turn the fiction into fact. New York World Publisher Joseph Pulitzer initially was against it, believing only a man could make such a trip. He eventually acquiesced and published daily updates on her journey. The entire nation followed along as Nellie raced not only time, but also another woman. Elizabeth Bisland, representing Cosmopolitan Magazine, finished her circumnavigation four days after Nellie triumphantly arrived in New York. Bly was honored with a U.S. postage stamp in 2002.
KRYSTYNA CHOJNOWSKA-LISKIEWICZ, an experienced Polish sailor and ship construction engineer, became the first woman to sail around the world solo. Krystyna was selected for the challenge in a competition held by Poland’s Sailing Association to promote Polish sailing during the United Nation’s International Women’s Year. Her husband, also a shipbuilder, custom- designed the Mazurek, a 9.5-meters long by 3-meters wide boat for Krystyna. During her voyage, Krystyna was stopped and suspected of drug trafficking, overcame storms, and battled not only kidney stones, but New Zealand sailor Naomi James, who was also trying to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by herself. Krystyna beat Naomi by 39 days. Now retired, Krystyna continues to sail and encourages women to take up the sport.
TRACY EDWARDS was expelled from school in Britain at the age of 15 and began traveling the world. She worked on charter yachts in Greece and learned how to sail, eventually taking part in the prestigious Whitbread Round the World Race as a cook in 1985. Four years later, Edwards skippered the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Race. Edwards’ Maiden, a restored second-hand racing yacht, went on to win two of the six legs of the race and finished second overall. The media covering the race was often derogatory. One sailing journalist described the Maiden as a “tin full of tarts.” Nevertheless, Tracy and her crew garnered worldwide praise, and she was awarded Britain’s Yachtsman of the Year Trophy and the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Today, she works with charities around the world to break down barriers preventing girls from getting an education.
DAME ELLEN MACARTHUR, a British sailor, broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005 on her first attempt. Her time of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds beat the previous record by more than a day. Shortly after her return to England amid a flotilla of boats and cheering crowds, MacArthur became the youngest woman in modern history to be made Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE). In 2009, she announced her retirement from competitive sailing and subsequently launched a foundation promoting the concept of the “circular economy” — rethinking how to design, make, and use the things people need, from food to clothing, to transform our economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is regenerated.
LAURA DEKKER, a New Zealand- born Dutch sailor became at age 16 the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single handedly. Because her parents were divorced, Dutch courts stepped in to prevent her departure earlier at age 15 because national law prohibited a captain of a boat younger than 16 to sail a boat longer than 7 meters in Dutch waters. Dekker, who was born to parents living on a boat off the coast of New Zealand, first sailed solo at the age of six and soon thereafter began dreaming of sailing around the world. When she finally won the right to sail, she launched from St. Maarten in her 38’ boat Guppy. In 2018, she founded the Laura Dekker World Sailing Foundation to provide programs for young people to develop life skills such as teamwork, self-confidence, responsibility and leadership.
British sailor JEANNE SOCRATES became the oldest woman at age 77 to single-handedly sail around the world, non-stop and without outside assistance. It was her third attempt. When she departed Victoria, British Columbia, aboard her 38’ boat Nereida, she was still recovering from a broken neck and broken ribs from a fall in a previous attempt. Socrates accomplished the feat in 11 months, sailing around all five great capes (Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin, South East Cape of Tasmania and the South Cape of Stewart Island) and dodging three cyclones. In honor of her feat, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority in Victoria named the inner harbor commercial dock the Jean Socrates Dock. Socrates is still sailing today.
Hurricanes are nature’s grandest, most ferocious storms. They fascinate us, and they repel us. As a radio news and weather reporter in Miami for 30 years, my grandfather was obsessed with hurricanes. (Confession: I am, too.) Using colored pencils and a wooden ruler, he meticulously plotted their paths onto an enormous paper map tacked up on the wall of his study. It was a beautiful and mesmerizing record of these ferocious and complicated storms that somehow feel alive as they zigzag and wobble across the ocean like drunken sailors.
Science has improved dramatically since my grandfather’s era. A fleet of Earth- observing satellites providing real-time data now help thousands of scientists around the world answer three age-old questions: Where and when will the hurricane hit and how strong will it be? Modern forecasts are pretty accurate. Long gone is the day when a storm could sneak up and hit without any warning. Here are the stories of three men who helped pave the way.
When the regime of Queen Isabella II of Spain collapsed in 1868, many who supported her thought it wise to flee the country. Father Benito Viñes, a Jesuit priest and educator, was one of them. He emigrated to Cuba and found a position as director of the meteorological observatory in Havana. Shocked by the damage hurricanes regularly inflicted upon the island, he made it his mission to learn everything he could about them.
Within five years of arriving, Father Viñes knew more about hurricanes than any living person. He was the first to discover that the cloud pattern and the behavior of the wind well in advance of a storm could be used to track it accurately. Using this information, he designed the “Antilles cyclonoscope,” a kind of slide-rule that could estimate from a considerable distance the current position of a hurricane and calculate its likely path. Up until then, weather observers could tell when a hurricane was coming but not where it was going.
His first forecast was published in a Havana newspaper on September 11, 1875 — two days before an intense hurricane ravaged the southern coast of Cuba. Many lives were saved because of the timely warning. Throughout the 1880s he exchanged hurricane information with other weather observers across the Caribbean via telegraph. It was the first hurricane warning system and a model the United States. Weather Service later emulated it. Father Viñes was so well-respected that for a short time hurricanes were even called Viñesas and identified numerically. The pronunciation, however, was difficult for Americans, so the practice ceased. Father Viñes died in 1893.
Len Povey was a self-taught pilot who flew with the new U.S. Army Air Service until 1922 when he left to pursue a more “colorful” career testing race planes, flying bootleg liquor and barnstorming over the Great Lakes as a headliner with a flying circus. His aerial acrobatics at the All-American Air Maneuvers show in Miami in 1934 caught the eye of a Cuban Air Force official who hired him to train Cuban pilots and serve as the personal pilot for Fulgencio Batista, the chief of the armed forces and later president and dictator of the island nation.
When Cuba’s Weather Service detected a storm intensifying several hundred miles east of the island in early September 1935, Len Povey volunteered to help pinpoint the location and movement of the storm. He jumped in his Curtiss Hawk II, an open cockpit biplane, and flew over the Straits of Florida where he located the hurricane farther north than predicted and moving northwestward toward the Florida Keys. The Cubans dispatched a warning, but it was too late. Later that same day, the storm roared ashore at Islamorada, FL, with winds of 200 m.p.h. and a 20-foot storm surge that drowned more than 400 people, mostly Army veterans who were building the Overseas Railroad.
Povey later joined the faculty at Embry-Riddle, a private Florida college focused on aviation and aerospace programs, where he was a tireless advocate for aerial hurricane patrols. However, the type of reconnaissance mission he envisioned didn’t happen until July 1943, when Air Force Colonel Joe Duckworth flew a plane directly into the eye of a hurricane churning toward Galveston, TX. Len Povey died in 1984. His obituary claimed he survived a mid-air collision and an encounter with a turkey buzzard that sheared off a portion of his plane’s wing.
One of the most recognized voices on hurricanes in the late 20th century emanated ironically from a mile-high lab at Colorado State University. That voice was Dr. William Gray, a professor of tropical meteorology from 1961 until 2005.
Bill Gray grew up in Washington, DC, wanting to be a baseball player. He was a standout pitcher for George Washington University until he hurt his knee. During service in the Air Force, he turned to a career in climatology. He once told the Los Angeles Times he was inspired to study hurricanes after he flew a plane through one off the east coast of Florida in 1958.
Dr. Gray was an outlier when it came to hurricanes. He eschewed computer modeling, focusing instead on observational science: historical storm data, old maps featuring storm patterns, and statistics on wind speed, water temperatures and other meteorological factors. He was the first to determine that the intensity and frequency of storms in the Atlantic was cyclical and that likelihood of a hurricane reaching the East Coast of the United States depended on a variety of factors including the amount of rainfall in Africa and the impact of El Niño (the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean that produces powerful winds that shear off the tops of storms developing in the Atlantic). In short, he figured out Mother Nature’s recipe for powerful storms.
In 1984 Dr. Gray unveiled the first Atlantic seasonal hurricane forecast and quickly became a hurricane superstar and media darling. He, however, considered his greatest legacy the students whom he taught and mentored, many of whom went on to become leaders in weather research and forecasting. He died in 2016.
Check out Marinalife's recent article about How Hurricanes Get Their Names.
You don’t need all six of these apps, but we’re certain you’ll find one here that you like. All are available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
THE WEATHER CHANNEL
Rain radar, storm tracker and severe weather warnings help you prepare for hurricane season, as well as storms and heavy rain. Monitor live radar updates, an hourly rain tracker, storm radar news, and local weather forecast on the go. Free. Available in English and 30 other languages.
NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DATA
Official data, custom graphics, updates and maps from National Hurricane Center (NHC) experts. Considered the grandparent of all hurricane trackers. Free. Available in English and French.
Reliable, real-time and hyperlocal forecasts combining data from 250,000+ personal weather stations and a proprietary forecast model provide an incredibly accurate local forecast. Interactive radar and customizable severe weather alerts. Free. Available in English and 30 other languages.
Previously called NOAA Radar, this is a good hurricane tracker app, because it lets you overlay rain, radar or satellite images on top of the tracker. This gives you a detailed look at what’s happening in the storm. Add multiple locations to the map to get alerted if you’re in the path of a hurricane. Free. Multiple languages. Paid upgrade packages available.
If you’re willing to spend some money on an app favored by weather nerds and professional storm chasers, then check out RadarScope. The learning curve is steeper than with others, but it features high-resolution radar data sourced from NOAA’s next generation radar and Doppler Weather Radar. Available in English, French, German and Spanish.
HURRICANE – AMERICAN RED CROSS
Monitor conditions in your area or throughout the storm track, prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe. Free. Available in English and Spanish.
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