Commodore leads Sea of Lights

Yacht club sets sail on its annual nighttime voyage

Royal Victoria Yacht Club Commodore Andrew McBride

With the Oriole in refit the Molly Malone will lead the parade of lighted boats Friday night (Dec. 4) along the shores of Oak Bay and Saanich.

Fittingly, the 136-foot vessel will have Royal Victoria Yacht Club Commodore Andrew McBride at the helm.

Traditionally HMCS Oriole leads the annual parade, but McBride, also the co-ordinator of the 10th annual Sea of Lights at RVYC, figures he’s up to the task.

“I’m going to try and fill the void, make my boat look bigger. I do have something like 3,000 lights,” he said.

The best viewing for the Sea of Lights is at Cattle Point around 7 p.m. followed by Willows Beach Park about 7:15 p.m. “If we’re going to do any tricks that’s where we’re going to do it,” said McBride. They’ll offer “similar antics” in Cadboro Bay around 7:45 p.m.

At Willows Beach Park, where Recreation Oak Bay hosts the family viewing, a big bonfire helps keep bodies warm and the Oak Bay Kiwanis offer hot chocolate and treats by donation. At Gyro, the Garry Oak Sea Scouts will have a hand in doling out warming goodies.

“It also benefits the Salvation Army, so we ask people to bring food and money donations,” said Charlotte Gann, who is primarily involved with the club’s largest endeavour, The Swiftsure International race, but offers her time for the sail-past this year as well.

Organizers hope to get the same number of boats as last year, 15 to 17, depending if you count the paddle boarder who donned lights last year and the two RCM-SAR units that accompany the parade. Some of the pilots will get a double-dose of holiday sailing with the big Victoria event the next night.

“Many of the participants in this will go around to the Inner Harbour the next night,” Gann said.

The annual event offers on opportunity for a good time for boaters and viewers, the co-ordinator said. “It’s great for the community, gets people out and allows us to mess around in boats in the dark,” McBride said.

“It’s fun. The club is often seen as a stodgy old boys’ place, but it really isn’t. This is an opportunity for us to be more outward.”

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