The Fourth of July is next Thursday, and every year on the fourth is the Old Glory Boat Parade in Newport Harbor. This wonderful annual tribute to freedom attracts boats from neighboring harbors and spectators around the harbor. This year's theme for the parade is "Stars and Stripes Forever Is the Color of Our Freedom."
The American Legion Yacht Club at Post 291 organizes the parade in conjunction with the post's annual July 4 fundraiser for the American Legion's Boys State program, VA hospitals and the Orange County Stand Down for homeless veterans, plus other worthy causes.
The post hosts a pancake breakfast and a BBQ lunch that is open to the public. The breakfast is from 7 to 11 a.m., and the tri-tip and chicken lunch will be served from noon to 4 p.m. However, the Old Glory Boat Parade will begin at 1 p.m., and the parade participants need to be by Collins Island by 12:30 p.m. to form the line.
Once again, the Orange County Sheriff's red fireboat will lead the parade around the harbor. You can see a map of the parade route at http://www.americanlegionyachtclub.com/files/Parade_CourseChart_2013.pdf. Additionally, parking will be available at the grassy lot next to the American Legion on 15th Street, across the street at the Catholic church, with a free shuttle ride from Hoag Health Center at 500 Superior Ave. My advice is to park at the health center and ride the shuttle to avoid the traffic on the Balboa Peninsula.
If you are around Newport Harbor after dark, you can watch the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina's fireworks display from shore or aboard your boat. The Dunes has a display that has become a tradition in Newport Harbor, and the fireworks will light up the sky at 9 p.m.
Boats that can fit under the Coast Highway bridge will most likely cruise up the Back Bay to see the fireworks while floating off the Dunes marina. Remember that to reach the Dunes area, boaters must follow the unlit channel markers or risk grounding once you have gone under the PCH bridge. Also, boaters need to know the tide levels for clearance under the Coast Highway bridge.
Actually, my favorite spot to watch from a boat is in the large turning by the anchorage area off the east tip of Lido Isle. You can drop your hook, relax and watch the fireworks with your family and friends aboard.
I will miss all the festivities in the Southern California waterways on the Fourth, as I will be skippering a private yacht out of Discovery Bay. I expect temperatures of 100 degrees, but the bay will be very busy with boaters enjoying the holiday as well.
Across the nation, the Fourth of July is one of the busiest times of the year on the waterways, and this year, the numbers are anticipated to increase if the economy recovers. Many boaters are returning to untie their docklines, especially with the Fourth falling close to a weekend. Boating organizations, harbor patrols and the Coast Guard are asking boaters to boat safely and be courteous to fellow boaters on the water.
Tip of the week begs a question: Are compact fluorescent light bulbs safe to use on boats? From personal observations and experiences in emergency situations, my answer is no. CFLs should not be used for emergency deck or bridge lighting or in the engine room.
When an emergency occurs such as someone falling overboard at night, you need immediate lighting now and not have to wait until the bulb warms up. In the event of an engine room fire or flooding, I need lights now, not in five minutes. Additionally, CFLs contain mercury that can create another hazard if you break a bulb while underway. We are usually barefooted on a boat, so be very careful not to step on a glass fragment contaminated with mercury.
CFLs might work in a stateroom or a salon, but I recommend LED or incandescent lights in areas where lighting is critical. Furthermore, when is the last time you changed the batteries in your boat's flashlights? Summertime is here and many boaters will be cruising after dark, so be prepared for emergency lighting both fixed and portable aboard your boat.
Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsibly and look behind you before you turn the wheel at the helm.
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MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to email@example.com or go to http://www.boathousetv.com.