Harbor Small Boat Parade was Started to Bring Hope- Now It’s Every Saturday for the Duration

By George Miller

One of the participants of the now weekly Saturday Channel Islands “Flash Mob” Small Boat Parade, told me that they plan to continue for the duration of the stay at home order. Harbor residents Tom and Anita Petersen has been involved since the Beginning. Eileen and Randy Cabral came up with the original idea – Show everyone who are stuck at home that they were not alone and that we are all in this together by cruising around the homes honking and waving! They mentioned this idea to Harbour Island Yacht Club Commodore Jeff Howe who in turn communicated the idea to the Commodores of the other yacht clubs in the harbor They ran with the idea of a parade of small boats through the harbor to improve morale- and for fun of course- that’s what boaters do. Just thinking it would be them and some friends and members, the first parade weeks ago quickly swelled to 30-40 boats- no one knows exactly how many, because there were no applications, sign-ups, etc. Last Saturday, Mr. Petersen said, there were over 100 small craft involved.  . The public loves it- it’s all over the harbor neighborhoods and nextdoor.com. Occasionally it even gets into august publications such as this one.


Tom Petersen, From screenshot of an Oxnard City Council meeting.


Last Saturday’s parade ventured into many smaller canals as well as the main channels. Photo: George Miller

The growing fleet consists mostly of electric runaboats which have become so popular in CA recreational boat harbors- quiet, cheap to operate, and sooo “green” and politically correct.  There is a smattering of small outboard RIB (inflatables and fiberglass) boats and a few larger craft as well- even a few kayaks and paddleboards. We saw pitchers of Margueritas, cases of beer, even the occasional Manhattan or daiquiri. We observed the adaptive etiquette of raising masks to sip drinks.

As more people learned about the parades, they asked :can you come down our canal, too?” Well some of these canals are not really up to accommodate multiple lanes of boats *going in, going out and turning around ), trying to avoid colliding with each other, docks and boats tied up. They were mostly very good at this, but the traffic congestion was intense in places.

Join the Parade?

Parades are every Saturday at 4 pm, ahem- 8 bells, starting near Hemlock off the main channel. Petersen says that the best viewing spots are from harbor-facing windows, shoreline paths, decks and docks in Seabridge and the main channel heading toward the bridge.

Contrite Retraction

The Petersens command what appears to be the flagship, a tidy little red tugboat with a VERY loud horn, which is why it was chosen as the flagship/lead boat, he insists. To correct a serious prior journalistic error on my part….. hey, I’m only a Citizen journalist: I erroneously and slipshodedly referred to it as a “mock tug boat.” But, later, I was sharply corrected by the Petersens and now understand that it is a REAL tug boat that used to haul around barges in SF- got that? Good.

“Tug Off”- the Petersen’s flagship, home-ported in Chanel Islands Harbor

Medical/Political Issues Surface

Petersen conceded that the parades started to attract attention, mostly very positive, but also a few complaints. Then the heavy hand of government made an appearance. He said that the harbor was close to being shut down over it, that other states had banned or severely restricted boating. Our Harbor Director, Mark Sandoval was supportive of keeping the harbor open throughout this whole time.  

Petersen said it was purposely being kept low key and everyone involved really stressed keeping in the guidelines of Social Distancing, only immediate family units aboard and no rafting up, to reduce the temptation by County officials to consider closing down the harbor to recreational boating.

Behind the scenes there was a lot of wrangling and discussions going on with city and county officials. In the end, the boat parades haven’t been adversely impacted. All this intrigue going on behind closed doors and we had no clue. Now that beaches are open and all, the parades don’t seem like such a big deal, so this has  hopefully receded as an issue.


Petersen said that his favorite thing about the parades is the enthusiastic reaction of the onlookers- mostly harbor residents, but also some onlookers on foot along the harbor walkways. We have both observed that many of the harbor residents are seniors. Many have limited mobility and are now shut in by the lockdown. These are also the most “at-risk” people for getting sick or even dying from COVID-19, so they mostly take it very seriously and stay locked down. Participants noted seeing people peeking through windows, sitting on decks, even coming out their docks to watch the parades and celebrate, some displaying flags and banners. It is kind of cathartic for all involved, free for onlookers and not to expensive for participants. It’s pretty safe if basic rules are followed.


Previous articles:

Harbor Boat Parade Leaves “Stay at Home” & “Social Distancing” in Its Wake

Harbor Boat Parade Leaves “Stay at Home” & “Social Distancing” in Its Wake

By George Miller What has turned into an ad hoc weekly Channel Islands Harbor Pandemic small boat parade continued Saturday afternoon- bigger and better than ever. Although the boats weren’t as large and grand as those in the annual yacht clubs sponsored Christmas Parade of Lights, they were far more numerous- dozens and dozens and […]


Channel Islands Harbor Easter “Honk ‘N Wave Flash Mob” Boat Parade

Channel Islands Harbor Easter “Honk ‘N Wave Flash Mob” Boat Parade

    By George Miller Some enterprising folks staged a Channel Islands Harbor (Oxnard) Easter small boat “Honk “N Wave Flash Mob” parade on Saturday afternoon. Dozens – an estimated at least 70 (that’s more than the Christmas Parade of Lights) – of mostly small, mostly electric, boats swarmed around the harbor. A good time […]


George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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