ROCKPORT — Rockport boat Capt. Bill Lee will host what he says will be an event of mythical proportions tomorrow.
The occasion is a denaming and renaming ceremony of new vessel, a replacement for Lee's 44-foot Ocean Reporter that ran into rocks behind Straitsmouth Island last Oct. 26 while carrying a National Geographic film crew that was shooting stock footage of Thacher Island's twin lighthouses.
Lee, a fisherman for 37 years before retiring to work as a marine surveyor, built the Ocean Reporter by hand in 1986. The vessel was a fixture in Rockport Harbor. He described that day it ran aground as the "end of a tragic love story."
But that saga will now continue, thanks to a lot of community support, when his new boat is christened Friday at 4 p.m. at T-Wharf. The debut will come with pomp and ceremony, cannon shots — and a guest appearance, Lee said, by the character of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.
"We can't christen (the vessel) until we dename it, and you can't do that without Neptune," said Lee.
The event, estimated to take about 17 minutes, will include a blessing of the boat along with christening using a bottle of champagne. There will be invited guests at the nearby Sandy Bay Yacht Club, but the public can take in the event from T-Wharf.
"This is going to be the event of the decade," said Rosemary Lesch, who serves as Rockport's harbormaster with Scott Story. "We think it's great the community came out to help him and he's picked up his business again."
Lee explained that there are superstitions dating back to ancient times related to the naming of boats and that proper procedures must be followed; to that end, he will follow every guideline.
"This event is a thank you for the people who supported me," he said. "A lot of people donated to a fund and that's how we got to this point so fast and this is our way of showing our gratitude."
The new boat is a 44-foot vessel from Salem, the Leidy Ana, which was federally seized.
It was a commercial lobster boat that will become a commercial work boat under Lee, under its soon-to-be new moniker, the Ocean Reporter.
Gail McCarthy may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3445 or email@example.com.