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Boaters brave the chill for Oak Harbor Yacht Club’s Lighted Boat Parade
Although the journey isn’t long, Byron Skubi knows that leading a parade of boats on a chilly winter night in Puget Sound can pose some challenges.
“There are a fair number of crab pots you have to watch out for,” Skubi said. “You always have to worry about someone falling overboard at night, which can be a problem. Many years ago, a cat fell overboard and was actually rescued.”
Skubi has seen a lot in 25 years of participating in the Oak Harbor Yacht Club’s Lighted Boat Parade.
Although temperatures were in the mid 20s on Dec. 7, the event went off without a hitch, with Skubi leading nine other boats on a voyage from Oak Harbor to Coupeville.
The event is a longtime yacht club tradition open to anyone with a boat who wants to participate.
Last year, wind wraught havoc on the parade, keeping boats within Oak Harbor.
But this year, other than frigid temperatures, it was smooth sailing.
“It went great,” said Terry Mills, who skippered his 45-foot trawler, Slow Flight, with wife Myra and several friends on board. “I think it was probably the best boat parade we’ve taken part in. It was probably the best organized.
“The thing that was key was the positioning and separation of the boats. Normally, the separation tends to get out of control.”
Skubi, piloting his American Tug, Mojo Workin, kept radio contact with other skippers to keep the boats together.
Skubi led the decorated boats past the Coupeville Wharf and to the southern shores of Penn Cove before heading back to Oak Harbor.
The event coincided with the “Greening of Coupeville” celebration.
A judge at the Coupeville Wharf gave out two awards to best decorated boats.
The winner in the powerboat division was Scott Ashworth in the Indigo.
The winner in the sailboat division was Janis Mund in a vessel named Skookumchuck that is familiar to Skubi.
Skubi was the former owner of the 37-foot sailboat, but admitted piloting a powerboat with a heated cabin was a more enjoyable experience.
“It was one of the coldest ones,” Skubi said of the lighted parade.
“Boy, what a mariner. Good grief,” Mills said of Mund. “To sit back in that sailboat, she was probably freezing to death.”
The Oak Harbor Yacht Club dates back to 1948. For information about the club, call 360-675-1314.