A Dream Realized


Movie Dream

Was it Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in the film “The African Queen” asking the Captain to marry them, or in the 2007 movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” or just our wishing it for Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic”?

Somewhere along the line, with a big boost from Hollywood, people got it into their heads that sea captains, nattily dressed in their crisp uniforms, could legally join couples on the open seas. Some believe it so because that saw it so many times on “The Love Boat.”

Appealing though it may be, the myth of a ship’s captain presiding over the nuptials of dewy-eyed couples has for most of the last century been pretty much just that.

Nobody really knows how long ago this notion arose, or why ship captains are thought to have more power than, say, airline pilots or train conductors. Most likely it has to do with the fact that ocean crossings have always been longer than the typical flight or train ride, and that amorous assignations were known to flourish on the high seas. Who better to legalize them than the commander of the ship?

And yet the demand for weddings by a Sea Captain has grown to the point that some cruise lines, operating under foreign flags and laws, have found ways to perform legal unions in international waters with the ship’s captain as officiant.

New York Times, By ABBY ELLIN FEB. 28, 2014
"A Marriage at Sea? Get Me Rewrite".



Captain Ray Goad was able to buy his first boat while still in college in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and kept it moored along the Intracoastal in Morehead City, N.C. After graduation, he moved to Seattle where he continued to be near blue waters and open seas.

He sailed year-round for decades, on Puget Sound, through the Georgia Straits, and up into the Inside Passage, more than 300 nautical miles north of Seattle. He served as an Officer of the Seattle Yacht Club, and since retiring in South Florida, he has continued working as a professional Captain.

Years ago Captain Ray was first asked to marry some friends. His research confirmed that while Sea Captains are customarily not recognized as having the authority to conduct marriages, ordained ministers are of course expressly authorized under the law of most states, including Florida State Law 741.07.

Captain Ray had served as an ordained minister for years, and in that capacity was recognized as a statewide leader for a major religious denomination. In 2014 Captain Ray activated his ordination and rest has become a footnote in history of the lives of many.

Whether at home, on a South Florida beach, or on the decks the local Yacht or Club, he is known for concluding his ceremonies with the words: “May you always be blessed with fair winds and following seas. May you live the days of your lives in peace, love, and happiness.”

Vows: Can a Captain Marry Us?

Hollywood gave a big boost to the myth that captains could legally join couples on the open seas. In New York, Captain Arnold Wonsever, and in South Florida, Captain Ray Goad, both also ordained minister, are making this Hollywood dream a reality.

Video By Natalia V. Osipova and Greg Jeske on Publish Date February 28, 2014. Photo by Greg Jeske for The New York Times.

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