Merry Christmas Everyone!
Shameless Self Promotion
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Now on to the Parade of Lights
The Parade of Lights is a parade of decorated boats of all sizes and descriptions along the San Diego waterfront. The parade starts at the west end of Shelter Island and runs down the water front to the Coronado Bridge, then doubles back along the shoreline of Coronado Island. About one hundred boats participate, all decorated with tons of Christmas lights. This year’s theme was Children’s Stories.
I spent the week doing some necessary repairs and cleaning the boat up for the event. The topsides were a mess. After several months of sitting in San Diego bay, a layer of dust and dirt had accumulated. I spent four days fixing, cleaning and scrubbing. I was beat before we ever left the dock. That’s not even mentioning the time it took for me to decorate the boat with festive Christmas lights.
You know what they say about the best laid plans. When Dawn got her schedule for this week, she was scheduled to work on Sunday. I had already invited a dozen or so people to go, so I felt like I had to follow through.
I was going to cancel the trip, but fortunately, Theresa and James volunteered to act as hostess and host for me. They came aboard early Sunday and I gave them the tour and explained how everything worked. Then they took over and ran the galley, producing a lovely ham dinner. All guests contributed to the pot luck and we had a grand time.
On top of this, we had a historic low tide at 4 pm, our scheduled departure time. The good news was that the tide would be on the rise if we ran aground. The bad news was that much of the bay was exposed mud flats.
Ken lives on his boat in Chula Vista Marina and he is intimately familiar with the channel. With his help, we picked our way up the channel to deep water under the Coronado Bridge.
I believe that I have already told you that Theresa was my deceased sister, Quita’s, best friend. Well Quita, Theresa and my cousin Carmen all were in the same class in grade school. Carmen and Theresa hadn’t seen each other in fifty years. They spend hours talking and reminiscing about the good old days.
I had Christmas music blaring from the stereo and the cockpit speakers. We anchored off the embarcadero and waited for the parade. The shoreline was crowded with people. As far as we could see mobs of people stood and waited for the coming of the decorated vessels.
We had time to get the anchor down, get the ham out of the oven and serve dinner to our guests, then the first boat came down the bay. For the next two hours, dozens of boats of all sizes, from decorated kayaks to hundred plus foot schooners paraded just off our starboard beam. We had the best seats in the house.
On many vessels, Santa shouted a merry “Ho, ho, ho.” We, of course replied with a hearty “merry Christmas.”
I could tell right away that we weren’t in Seattle anymore. We did the Christmas Ship parade in Seattle and froze our little tutus off. Here in San Diego we wore parkas for the trip up the bay into the wind, but as soon as we were at anchor, off came the coats in the balmy weather. On the way back down the bay after the parade, the wind was with us so we didn’t need the coats going home either.
We had a marvelous meal, thoroughly enjoyed watching the parade, then pulled the anchor and headed home.
Nothing is ever as easy as it should be. For some reason, the anchor windlass decided not to pull up the chain and we had to haul in the last thirty or forty feet by hand. That’s a couple of hundred pounds of chain with a sixty-five pound anchor on the end. Four guys took turns being macho and hauling that puppy up to the deck, but finally we were free.
The trip back to Chula Vista was a little nerve wracking for me, but I’m sure the guest had a good time. While they enjoyed pie and ice cream, I had to pick my way up the channel, marked by navigation lights (with Ken’s help), without running aground. This time we were on a falling tide, so if we got stuck, we would be in deep kimchee. (Or should I say “shallow kimchee?”)
My cousin, Yollanda, sat next to me at the helm. “It sure would be easy to get lost out here,” she said. “They don’t have any street signs.”
“But they do,” I answered. “See those red and green lights? They mark the safe channel home. The flashing blue light is a police harbor patrol boat. The flashing yellow lights are the stake boats for the parade that mark the parade route.”
“I guess you have to know how to read them,” she replied.
We made it back to Chula Vista Marina and I managed to get the Victory back in her slip in the dark. Docking this big, ungainly boat is a little like trying to park a semi in your garage without the use of brakes. She fits, but just barely and there isn’t a lot of room in the fairways for backing and filling. Basically, you have to judge the turns right the first time or you’ll be poking your bow sprit into someone else’s boat.
All in all we had a marvelous time. All the guests were happy and I managed to get everyone back alive and in one piece. Any time I can say that, I consider it a successful trip.
I spent the next day watching football, eating and napping. I was totally wiped out.
Back to Shameless Self Promotion
Seven Seas Mysteries is a boxed set of seven pulse-pounding nautical mystery novels by seven bestselling authors for only 99 cents. I had the honor of including The Inside Passage in this set.
All proceeds from the sale of this box set go to the Veterans Writing Project.
Pick up your copy today. Have seven great reads and support a really worthy cause.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.