The boat bearer, more commonly known as “the boat boy”, is in charge of bringing the incense to and from the altar alongside the thurifer who brings the thurible. The name has its origin in history, as the incense containers were shaped in the form of a boat. This continues the image of the incense being a type of our prayer ascending to God. Just as the Church is the ship guiding us to Heaven, so the incense, as our prayer, is brought in the boat container to the altar.
The role, while not mentioned in many rubricial books, greatly aids the smooth operating of the movements on the altar, and adds to the liturgical splendour on greater feasts.