It's time to decorate your boat Parade of Yachts set for Dec. 12 in Annapolis

It's time to start working on your entry for this year's Eastport Yacht Club's annual Christmas Lights Parade of Yachts in Annapolis Harbor and Spa Creek, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 12.

Although high winds canceled the event last year, the meanest grinch usually can't steal the holiday spirit that the Lights Parade generates for its participants, or the delight it brings to more than 50,000 people lining Spa Creek.


If the thought of putting together your own entry is fascinating but intimidating, remember that your design and execution don't have to be complicated or expensive. After all, the point is to have fun, and that's virtually guaranteed.

It's the marvel of all of the boats together that gives the parade its heartwarming punch, especially when the dark, expectant hush on the water suddenly gives way to cheering holiday spectacle as all the boats turn on their lights at once at the sound of the 6 p.m. cannon.


As usual, awesome displays are expected from some of the commercial and organizational entries, but even the smallest, most simply decorated individual or family participant is a welcome and important part of the event.

Getting a group together from your yacht club or other organization can be an easy, economical way to share the load.

Basically, the key to success in designing and executing a parade entry is planning and preparation.

Most of the experienced boat decorators recommend using midget Christmas tree lights because they draw less power (and smaller generators mean less noise), while their spacing every six inches on the string simplifies planning how many bulbs you'll need from a scale drawing of your design.

Standard midget lights come in strings of 35, 50 or 100, but the 50-bulb sets with connectors on each end are usually the easiest work with. The 100-bulb sets are strung in a closed loop with only one electrical connection, so patterning with them can be more difficult.

If you need more than six 50-bulb strings or the equivalent, figure out how to connect extension cords back to the power source, because no more than 300 bulbs should be linked to a single circuit. That information, along with the wattage of the string, is on the package of lights.

The experts recommend using a generator with about 25 percent more capability than a design's total wattage to avoid problems.

Safety requirements, covered at the mandatory skippers' meeting a day or two beforehand, include keeping a flashlight and fire extinguisher near the generator and having at least two designated drivers because the on-board lights and a lot of happy crew members on deck can make visibility difficult.


Also for safety's sake, all entries must be registered; the parade area will be patrolled to keep others out of the way.

For more information on entering, call Jim McKnight at (410) 263-6839.

Baltimore also has its own Lights Parade, with the Fells Point Yacht Club as host, Saturday at 5 p.m. off Broadway Pier in Fells Point.

Seminars, events scheduled

Coast Navigation and Fawcett Boat Supplies both will be featuring seminars and events during the coming days.

Over at Coast, at 116 Legion Ave. a block from West Street, the annual winter series of Tech Talks begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, with a discussion of marine 12-volt electrical systems. Included will be discussion of means of determining electrical requirements and loads, inverters, chargers, solar power and other topics, with emphasis on individual applications.


Coast will play host to its annual open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at the store. It will include two seminars and two meet-the-author book signings.

At 10 a.m., an in-depth look at Global Positioning Systems will cover all the basics as well as the latest technology, and at 1:30 p.m. Annapolitans Grant and Astaar Breining will discuss the realities of living aboard in a slide-seminar offering titled "This Side of the Dream."

The Breinings have lived aboard their 42-foot Kadey-Krogan trawler at Port Annapolis Marina for six years, and have plenty of extended cruising and live-aboard experience to share. They will discuss what it takes in terms of personality, skills and attitudes to live in a space less than one-fifth the size of a conventional home.

Authors John Page Williams ("Exploring the Chesapeake in Small Boats") and Thomas Gilmer ("Pride of Baltimore") will be at the Open House from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., respectively.

The Saturday Open House also will offer refreshments, hourly door prizes, gift consultants and special sale prices. A suit of Helly Hansen foul-weather gear will be given away as a grand prize at 3 p.m., but you must be present to win all prizes.

Admission to all activities at Coast is free, but reservations for the seminars are strongly recommended. For more information, call (410) 268-3120.


On City Dock, Fawcett's also will have seminars and an author signing over the weekend.

Noted racing sailor and writer Stuart Walker will autograph copies of his many racing publications including his latest on weather from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Cruising and racing navigators and passage-makers will be interested in Louise Burke's four-hour seminar on navigating without electronics from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the store.

Burke, former director of offshore sailing at the Naval Academy, is a longtime veteran sailor who is well-known for her educational activities and her offshore work.

On Dec. 8, Lewmar representative Dick Rath will be at Fawcett's at 5:30 p.m. for a Lewmar products seminar.

For more information, or reservations, call Fawcett's at (410) 267-8681.