Boats on parade this Friday

Bundle up for a bonfire and boating evening at Willows Beach

Tibbie and Robert Adams decorate their 32-foot boat

Tibbie and Robert Adams decorate their 32-foot boat

Thirty boats twinkling with anywhere from 500 to 1,000 lights each will illuminate the waters beyond Willows Beach Friday night (Dec. 2).

Thirty-one-metre navy sailing vessel HMCS Oriole will lead the seventh annual Sea of Lights parade of lighted boats, which leaves the Royal Victoria Yacht Club at 6:45 p.m. and passes in front of Willows Beach around 7:15.

Among the entries is perennial favourite, Pegasus, skipper Don Craigmyle’s sailboat.

His decorating efforts do not go unnoticed by his fellow boaters.

Brian Shorter, skipper of Pampero, notes, “He spends the latter half of the sailing season getting ready for it. It’s fully computerized.”

The yacht club is still accepting registrations for power or sailboats to join the flotilla. Registration is free, at

“It’s open to everybody. You don’t need to be a club member – the more the merrier,” said Shorter.

The best viewing is from Willows Beach, where a bonfire will be tended by Oak Bay firefighters, and hot chocolate and cookies served up at the Oak Bay Kiwanis tea room by donation.

The Kiwanis use their proceeds to support a wide variety of youth activities in the area.

“Everything we raise goes back into the community,” said member Brian Beckett.

This year the Kiwanis will also be selling Christmas cakes for $20 each, as well as lottery tickets in support of Kiwanis Pavilion Foundation.

With the Christmas hamper season now underway, other donations are being accepted at the site. The Salvation Army will be accepting non-perishable food and cash donations.

“Last year’s parade raised a bumper (crop) of donations for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Fund and the Oak Bay Kiwanis charity,” said Sea of Lights spokesperson and active boater, Tibbie Adams.

For a second year, choral music will be key to the festivities at Willows.

For a second year, choral music will be key to the festivities at Willows. The crowd will be entertained with carols from the Canadian College of Performing Arts choir.

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton will judge the parade entries and prizes will be awarded at the yacht club afterward.

“Don’t forget to clap and cheer when you see us,” said Adams. “We can hear you and it makes it much more fun.”

As part of the entertainment, the boats will “pirouette” in front of Willows Beach.

They will then loop back along the waterfront to Cattle Point, to Ten Mile Point and then sail past Gyro Park at approximately 7:45 p.m.

Over on the Saanich side of the route at Cadboro Bay, hot chocolate and coffee will be served by the 12th Garry Oak Sea Scouts at Gyro Park beach.

Other boaters are being asked not to place crab traps down on the night of the Sea of Lights parade.

“They are impossible to see in the dark and the lines foul the propellers of the parade boats,” said Adams.

For more information, visit the yacht club website at