In what will likely be an impressive sight, Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club officials hope the number of vessels in Saturday’s sailpast will at least match the club’s 40 years of existence, as members celebrate its history.
“I think it’s a great way to kick off a great another boating season, to which everyone is looking forward to,” said Commodore Alan Hannabauer. It will launch with a bang at 2 p.m., thanks to a small portable cannon to be fired off Hannabauer’s boat, Tidewalker.
Motor-powered vessels, followed by sailing vessels, will then parade past the Tidewalker and vessels owned by club vice-commodore Murray Wiseman and rear-commodore Doug Potentier, which will anchor just off Beacon Wharf.
King Neptune, the Roman god of the seas to be played by Adrian Kershaw, will watch the parade, blessing sailors and vessels along the way.
While the traditions of sailpasts to symbolically launch boating season date back centuries to England, this year’s event coincides with the club’s 40th anniversary and the lifting of various public health measures designed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
On one hand, the pandemic has put winds in the sails of the boating industry. The demand for boats and moorage space has reached great heights as people have shifted their spending, said club manager Brian Taylor.
On the other hand, educational programming and the social dimension of boating have been hurt. The club’s facility, which includes a restaurant, opened last week having been closed since November, forcing everyone to scramble somewhat to get ready for the sailpast, Taylor said.
The public health measures have also limited access to favoured destinations, he added.
“I know from the boaters in general, they are very anxious to be able to get out on the water and go to all the places they normally go.”
Saturday’s sailpast will likely help ease that anxiety.
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