From the Boathouse: It's parade time, from coast to coast


Christmas boat parades are underway across the nation, and I hope that everyone has a chance to view a parade. I have the fortune of viewing such events near and far, and this weekend, I will be joining in the Discovery Bay Yacht Club's Christmas Lighted Boat Parade aboard EDGE Motorworks' yacht.

This is the final weekend for Dana Point's Boat Parade of Lights, which will cruise the harbor starting at 7:30 p.m. on the 13th and 14th. There are plenty of spots for you to watch from the shoreline. For those of you who may be heading north, the 59th Annual Christmas Ship Parade is scheduled on the Columbia and Willamette rivers in Portland, Ore. The Christmas ship fleet sails every night, weather allowing, from Dec. 6-21.

In Florida there are numerous boat parades in the panhandle this time of year. This Saturday is the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade which will cruise easterly on the New River in Fort Lauderdale and then north on the Intracoastal to end in Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. This parade has a 12-nautical-mile route, and it's deemed the "Greatest Show on H20."

If your waypoint on Saturday is north of Florida, then Annapolis is holding the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade that cruises Annapolis Harbor. This parade is an annual signature event, which will start at 6 p.m., and will be streamed live online. Go to to see the action.

Heading to an exotic location this weekend? The St. Croix Christmas Boat Parade, the largest in the Caribbean, is also Saturday at 6 p.m. Boats will cruise through Christiansted Harbor. I am still waiting for my invitation to host the St. Croix parade, so perhaps in 2014.

Lastly on my list of parades for this week, we can jump on a flight to Hawaii and the 17th Annual Festival of Lights Christmas Boat Parade. The Oahu parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 21, sponsored by the Hawaii Kai Marina Community Assn. . The parade will start near Duck Island after a couple of passes in front of the judges at Towne Center before cruising through most of the harbor. The boats will finish just sly of the Wailua Bridge at the end of Mariner's Cove.

Tip of the week is more of my advice for those who will be skippering in a boat parade to make it an enjoyable experience for you and your guests. I have been skippering in parades as a professional captain for decades aboard small boats, mega yachts and almost every size in between.

Let's begin with the basics: Every skipper must keep the safety of guests and other boaters as his or her No. 1 priority. Additionally, all skippers should be extra courteous while on the water and remember boater's etiquette, especially in close quarter situations.

If you are cruising in a harbor with commercial vessels, don't hesitate to hail a larger vessel to let the skipper know you are passing closely on, for example, the starboard side, or if you are not certain of the larger vessel's intentions. Keep in mind that whether it is a recreational or commercial vessel, the larger the vessel, the less maneuverability and visibility for the skipper.

When aboard a recreational vessel without a professional crew, I always designate someone to help me with the lines and fenders and who is able to assist should a situation arise onboard. Find out who in your group has any boating knowledge or can keep a level head in a crisis. That person must be able to understand your requests (orders) and follow through, but do not confuse your helper by using only nautical terminology.

Lastly, I constantly mention this in my columns, but as a reminder, be wary of how you handle your boat because your maneuvers affect all the boats around you. Before you turn your boat, look behind you to see if it is clear of any vessel toward your stern. Also, do not stop in the middle of the parade or a channel except, of course, for safety reasons.

Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsibly and look behind you before you turn the wheel at the helm.

Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting live coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network. See times at, and

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World