The annual blessing of the boats is normally a joyous start to the spring fishing season in Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish. But this year's affair had more the air of a wake.
Some years, as many as 200 craft, most of them working boats, lined up at the Gulf Outlet Marina to be sprinkled with holy water by a waiting priest. On Sunday, only four boats floated by for the blessing and not one a commercial vessel.
Meanwhile, the prognosis for halting the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was far from reassuring.
It will take at least three months to effectively stop the flow of oil rushing through a damaged well that is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, according to Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, and now national incident commander of the Gulf Coast.
Allen says the three-month window is the best-case scenario for drilling a new well into the reservoir of oil that's 23,000 feet below the water's surface. He says that is the only way to stop the flow of oil at the source.