Sea of Lights sets sail

Willows and Cattle Point provide perfect viewing for Friday’s event

John Carter prepares to get things sailing at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Vessels will suit up in lights and Christmas decor in advance of Friday’s Sea of Lights parade.

Sailors will bling out their starboard sides this week at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in anticipation of a well-lit Friday evening. That right-hand side of the vessel is the one set to sparkle for audiences on the shoreline of Oak Bay and into Saanich for the Sea of Lights.

In the ongoing tradition of the sail past that started in 2006, HMCS Oriole leads the pack of up to 30 brightly decorated boats.

“They lead the fleet,” said event co-ordinator John Carter. “At Willows Beach [the boats] do a couple of pirouettes, then go up past 10 Mile Point.”

At Willows Beach a bonfire takes the chill off for the crowds gathered for the lighted sea parade.

“It’s an excuse to get the family down there and warm by the bonfire,” said Carter. “I’ve been the one on the beach at Willows with hot chocolate, it’s great.”

Then the sea-goers head for a second showing for those gathered at Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay. Community events are planned for both parks in aid of the Salvation Army.

“It’s for food and cash donations to their kettle campaign,” Carter said.

The Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser of the year kicked off Nov. 22 and runs until Dec. 24. Last year, the kettle campaign in Greater Victoria raised $175,000 – $75,000 short of the goal. This year the organization hopes to raise $225,000.

“The fire department will manage a small bonfire on the beach in front of the Willows Tea room,” said Fire Chief Dave Cockle. Also a member of the Oak Bay Kiwanis, Cockle advised they will have the Tea Room open for cookies and hot chocolate by donation. “As well, they will have their famous Christmas cakes for sale,” Cockle said.

“This is a fun family evening that you need to dress warm for. Last year’s event had to be cancelled as the winds were too high and safety was a concern.”

Sailing in the Sea of Lights is also a blast. Afterward, crews tie up and head to the yacht club for a warming meal and prizes, Carter said. While there will be some traditional firsts, there should be a plethora of unusual titles handed out as they’ll look for an excuse to get most participants a prize.

After the last-minute cancellation last year, the Sea of Lights hopes for calm seas Friday.

“It was a wild day, blowing a gale,” Carter said. “Hopefully this year we’ll have a crisp, clear night. Dry would be good too.”

The best times to catch the lighted vessel parade for Friday’s Sea of Lights will be at Cattle Point at 7 p.m., Willows Beach Park at 7:15 p.m. and in Saanich at Gyro Park on Cadboro Bay around 7:45 p.m.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com