Scuba diving regulators of all types and ages will be prayed for at Blacktip Island’s Blessing of the Regulators Sunday. (photo courtesy of Jerrod Ephesians)
The Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral will host the Caribbean island’s annual Blessing of the Regulators Sunday morning, safeguarding scuba divers and their equipment for the busy summer diving season.
“It’s a non-denominational ceremony open to all divers, regardless of religious beliefs, or lack thereof,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians. “We do it on behalf of St. Dervil, Blacktip Island’s patron saint, who blessed the island’s first divers back in the 1550s.
“The ceremony’s totally inclusive,” Ephesians said. “We welcome single- and double-hose regs as well as rebreathers, Spare Airs and even snorkels.”
As ever, local divers are excited about the ceremony.
“I trust my training and all, but I’ll take any backup I can get,” said Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel. “‘God’s my alternate air source,’ you know? Whichever god’ll listen.
“Using Dervil’s original Canticle for Regultors is what makes the Blessing stick,” Diesel said. “The whole ‘Bless me that I may not so much breathe, as to continue to breathe’ thing. And sprinkling us with rum.”
Others questioned the ceremony’s efficacy.
“There’s no proven cause-and-effect relationship between praying over your regulator and diving safely,” said long-time resident B.C. Flote. “Folks want this superstitious shtick, let ‘em do it on their own time. This’s a religious ceremony and the bars can’t open until it’s over.”
Church officials take a pragmatic view of the service.
“Hand of the Divine or self-fulfilling belief, it amounts to the same thing,” Ephesians said. “We administer the Blessing. People have safe dives. Boom. Done.
“We ran a couple of double-blind test Blessings a few years back, but the results were inconclusive,” Ephesians said. “It’s metaphorical, anyway. The Blessing covers not just regs, but all scuba gear. Except dive knives. That’d be inappropriate, since Dervil was hacked to death by Norse raiders.”
Island business leaders have embraced the Blessing for more secular reasons.
“The resort’s chock-a-block full this weekend, and we’re selling Blessing t-shirts like crazy,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “Mumbo jumbo or not, it fills our bank account every year. That’s a result you can measure.”
The Blessing will be administered en masse rather than individually to avoid the scuffles that marred last year’s ceremony.
“There was a rumor the regs that got blessed first got more oomph than the later ones,” Ephesians said. “Next thing we knew, divers at the back of the line were about killing each other to get to the front. We had to replace a bunch of pews and three stained-glass windows.”