Channel Islands Harbor ‘Parade of Lights’

Channel Islands Harbor is my home port these days; my Kettenburg 32 Gypsy currently lives at Anacapa Isle Marina.

It has always been interesting to me how different harbors, and on the smaller scale the individual yacht clubs and marinas within them, have their own personalities. Some are big and impersonal, others are small and funky. Some are stuffy and ooze self-conscious wealth; others are friendly and down-to-earth, with owners puttering away on their own (relatively) low-budget maintenance projects.

I’ve been pretty happy at Anacapa Isle Marina; there are nice amenities and not too much attitude, and there are some really nice owners who share my dock (“B” dock).

One larger-than-life personality is Nick, who owns the humongous powerboat Neverending Story that lives on our end-tie. I think of Nick as the patriarch of the dock, stumping up and down, calling out a greeting to everyone. To the extent there’s an actual community of people on our dock, Nick is at the heart of it.

All of which brings me to the Christmas boat parade. Like most Southern California harbors, Channel Islands Harbor puts on a Christmas boat parade each year. As part of that, Anacapa Isle Marina sponsors a boat-decorating contest, where each dock competes for a free catered lunch. B dock is something of a powerhouse in the competition, and my first Christmas in the marina I found out why: Every time I was down at the boat from November on Nick made a point of talking to me about the competition and asking me how I was going to decorate Gypsy.

I’m normally something of a bah-humbug guy about holiday decorations, but between the urgings of Nick and those of my wife I managed to string some lights from the bow to the masthead and down the backstay. We also put a big red bow on the bow pulpit, and wrapped some sparkly gold stuff around the lifelines.

I can’t say that Gypsy outclassed the other decorations on our dock, but we at least held up our end, and B dock won the prize that year. I decorated again the following year, when we came in second, after a tough-fought match with H dock.

Which brings us to last year. My schedule was really hectic last December, and I ended up going several months without getting down to the boat at all. I missed the Christmas boat parade, and (obviously) I failed to do any decorating.

I’m hoping that enough time has now elapsed that Nick will forgive me. I suspect he’ll be fine with it — assuming I decorate Gypsy for this year’s event.

This year’s Channel Islands Harbor ‘Parade of Lights’ will take place Saturday, December 10. Festivities will run from noon to 8:00 p.m., but the parade proper is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.

For more information visit’s events page (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find the relevant section). More information is available by phone at (805) 985-4852.

Photo: No, that’s not Channel Islands Harbor. As you may have figured out from the Canadian flags, it’s a marina somewhere in Canada (Ottawa, maybe?), as photographed by Flickr user fabianfischer.

3 Responses to “Channel Islands Harbor ‘Parade of Lights’”

  1. chris Says:

    I really enjoy your blog format John. FYI – if you like laid back comraderie in the boating community, nothing beats the Anacapa Yacht Club, just across the way from you. Its a good bunch of folks and no attitude whatsover. They certainly have a lot of racing activities but they are also building a cruising group as well and – well – the libations are the cheapest in town and most certainly for miles and miles around. The yearly membership is…$400

  2. D Wilder Says:

    Seems as tho your date is off
    for the parade of lights
    sat is dec 9

  3. John Callender Says:

    Actually, that post was from last year’s Parade of Lights (2005). Thanks for the update on the 2006 event.

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