Whether it’s making sure crab traps are lit with markers before the parade starts or it’s making sure every last boat gets into harbour after the parade, the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM SAR) stations 31 and 36 along with a handful of other volunteer groups are the reason the lighted boat parade is such a success every year.
“The RCM SAR groups and the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary are very important to the lighted boat parade every year,” said Warren Franklin, a co-chair of the annual event.
“Not only do they lead us around the course and help make sure we’re safe, they also go above and beyond offering tips to boaters before the parade and seeing us all back at the end of the parade. We couldn’t do it without them.”
RCM SAR station 31 out of Brentwood Bay was formerly part of station 36 Saanich which is based out of Canoe Cove Marina in North Saanich.
In the fall of 2011 Brentwood Bay was established as a separate station as a rescue boat had already been located in Brentwood since the early 80s.
Station 31 serves the Saanich Inlet from Goldstream out to Satellite Channel.
“The lighted boat parade is always a great night of fun,” said station 31 coxswain Candace Winter.
“RCM SAR volunteers make sure to get out there in advance of the sail past during the day to mark any crab traps or anything that might be an obstacle with glow sticks. Then we get all the boats to the staging area and make sure they’re all ready to go and lead them out. One boat also follows alongside the parade to make sure everything is going smoothly.”
Franklin said for a first time participant or new boater in the light boat parade, the aspect of motoring at night can be a bit daunting.
“That’s why it’s so great to know we have RCM SAR there with us,” he said.
The parade runs annually and is organized by Franklin and a committee in conjunction with Peninsula Celebrations Committee who organize Sidney Sparkles each year.
“We are in our twenty-eighth year and this is my twelfth year participating. It’s a lot of fun for everyone, boaters as well as onlookers,” Franklin said.
The Celebrations Society and the lighted boat parade committee for the Sidney Lighted Boat Parade are currently busy recruiting vessels for this year’s event which is set to take place on Saturday, Nov. 30.
“We had 23 boats in the parade last year that came from yacht clubs and marinas all over Victoria and the Peninsula,” said Warren, adding that they’re hoping for more this year.
Franklin and the committee are hosting a skippers’ meeting on Nov 21 at 7 p.m. at the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club (1949 Marina Way in North Saanich).
For more information on lighting boats or to get an application form for the parade, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 250-655-0149.