Boats bearing different flags than usual gathered in Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Saturday. The skull and crossbones of pirates were everywhere, along with pirates of many sizes carrying water guns and water balloons as a part of Variety the Children’s Charity’s 14th annual “Boat for Hope” event.
Every year Variety invites ill or disabled children supported by its services, and their families, to have a day of nautical fun.
“We have families from all over Victoria, up as far as Nanaimo and the Comox Valley, come down for this event,” said the charity’s community development officer, Richard O’Shaughnessy. “They get to go on the waters today with our skippers and go out and act like pirates.”
|Xander Charmley (left), Coen Charmley, Frank Charmley and Jesse Charmley are ready to get some loot as they participate in Variety B.C.’s “Boat for Hope” event. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS|
In all, 280 people: children, caretakers and family members, boarded ships down at HMCS Malahat pier in James Bay. Participants tried their hands at five water-bound stations, shooting pirates with water guns along the way and earning loot. When they returned to land, they were treated to a barbecue filled with delicious food as well as more fun games.
“We do this as just as a way to give our families a special day out, a day for themselves,” O’Shaughnessy said. “They get to see families in a similar situation. For them, it’s a day of stress-free fun where kids get to be themselves.”
Delphine Charmley, mother to Variety’s kid champion Xander Charmley, agreed.
“Boat for Hope is a great day to have the kids that have special needs to have a little bit of a break from all the poking and prodding and everything else,” she said. “It’s just a chance for them to have a lot of fun,” she said.
Her grandchildren also look forward to the event all year, she added, and as soon as they get home they mark the next event on the calendar.
“I really like shooting the water taxis,” said nine-year-old Jess Charmley. “And if they hit [them], I like that!”
“I think it’s awesome,” added six-year-old Coen Charmley, “Because I like shooting the pirates!”