Summer in the Harbor – Time for a Parade

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The recent sunny weather has a big effect on boating on our Harbor.

Years ago, I did some work for the Fun Zone Boat Co. They always said if the sun comes out, irrespective of the time of year, they will be busy taking people out on their Harbor Tour Boats. If the weather is foggy or overcast, they will have a slow day.

I’ve noticed that he number of boats on the bay during the summer season also holds true to this formula. The exception is the summer club sailing races in the Harbor – they’re running, sunny or not.

Whether you’re boating or beside the bay, the evening sailboat races are quite a sight! They race about five evenings a week in the bay, and the competition to win is fierce. Watching 20- to 50-foot sailboats in the harbor is one of the most picturesque events of the summer season. This is another example of why many believe we have a world-class harbor. The races start at 6 p.m. and usually finish by 7:30 p.m. They always include a run from the mark near Bayside Cove to the mark adjacent to the west tip of Lido Isle. The restaurants along Mariners Mile have a great view of the action. The former Josh Slocum’s on the bayfront appears to be opening soon with a major renovation and new name. It will specialize in barbeque items and will be named DÏV BAR.

Also along Mariners Mile is the Sea Scout Base. Its summer program is in full swing, helping hundreds of young people learn to sail, canoe, and swim in and around the harbor. The Columbia-made 43-foot Del Mar is well known around the United States. Many times the boat and crew have won their class in off-shore races.

Mike Stewart has been the leader and instructor of the group for more than 25 years. His crew has won the national competition of Sea Scouts many times. Stewart’s management of the scouts, thousands of hours of his time guiding hundreds of young people, and the sailboat race training and experience are all extremely commendable. The scouts, base and community are truly blessed to have him aboard, guiding young people in activities they use the rest of their lives. Truly exceptional.

One of the busiest boating days of the year is the Fourth of July. The early afternoon includes the Old Glory Boat Parade around the perimeter of the harbor, put on by the American Legion. Our American Legion is located on the bayfront at 15th Street on the Peninsula. I am a third-generation member of the Legion. This post is the only one in the United States that has its own accredited yacht club. This year’s theme is “It Stands for Freedom.” The vessels in the parade are decorated with the theme, and are quite spectacular. We from the Legion hope Newport boaters will participate and make this year’s event the largest.

The Old Glory parade used to be  “Character Boat Parade,” and it stemmed from the antics of members of the Balboa Island Punting and Sculling Society. These characters put the “mascot yacht,” the Michigan, on a railroad flatbed car and rode their boat to Las Vegas. Another time they placed a railroad car on a barge and took the train to Catalina. I met a few of the original members in the early 1970s. We helped raise the Michigan, which had sunk at its slip, and our tugboat, the Walrus, towed it to Larson’s Shipyard to be hauled out and repaired.

Next door to the old Larson’s Shipyard is the Rusty Pelican. The Michigan’s skipper, Dick Shaw, was in the restaurant bar and his fellow member and friend, Virgil Parks, came to appraise the situation next door. Dick Shaw was a nationally syndicated newspaper cartoonist of “By George” fame. Virgil Parks was also a nationally syndicated newspaper cartoonist, of “V.I.P.” fame. The two reminisced about various events held on the Michigan and compared notes and updates of their families. Dick penned several “By George” and “Michigan” cartoons on cocktail napkins, which my older brother probably still has. The camaraderie of the cartoonists was quite evident, and a good time was had by all.

The Character Boat Parade was held once a year, and put on by the Newport Chamber. I was disappointed to see it become smaller in its later years, and eventually it was discontinued.

Following a short time after that, my dad and a few other members of the American Legion Yacht Club, decided to bring back the Old Glory Boat Parade in the former’s absence. This has continued for the decade-plus.

My wife and I will be in our “yacht,” the Gypsy IV, and hope to see a large event this year.

Please dress up your boat and join us.

Have a happy Fourth, and God Bless America!

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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