Holiday Boat Parade of Lights: Getting Ready

Charles and I decided to sail in the Alexandria, Virginia to Washington, DC Boat Parade of Lights on the same day that the landscaping crew at work restrung and replaced 5,000 outdoor lights. A quick chat with the owner of the landscaping company and I was the proud borrower of the largest bin of lights on the eastern seaboard.

So heavy we needed a dock cart.
The lights had been hung on crepe myrtles in an outdoor plaza for a year and we ended up with about 4,000 lights after checking every. single. strand.

Testing 100 carefully wrapped strands of lights.
I began the afternoon hanging strands around the lifelines while Charles let down the jib. He got the easy part and I had to pull it back up once the lights were attached.

Lowering the jib is the east part.

Guess who has to pull it back up?

Wrapping lights around the main sail.

We hung about 40 strands of lights and we’re drawing less than an amp. The new generator can handle this!

The bin was overflowing when we started. Patrick will thank me for testing every strand!
The marina was packed with tourists enjoying the unseasonably warm start to the holiday season. I had my only taste of Black Friday in line at Starbucks and it made me glad our holiday season will be filled with a catamaran and a cabin on the river, not shopping to excess and a mindless frenzy of gifts.

The marina is private and gated but the rest of the resort is not.
I couldn’t wait until dark to snap a few shots of our hard work.




We have some new friends and some old friends sailing with us in the parade.  A good friend will be sailing directly behind us on Quiescent, our previous 32′ DuFour sailboat! We’re boat #30  in a procession of 60 so if you’re on the banks of the Potomac on December 5, please keep an eye out for the two sailboats right in the middle. Don’t forget to wave!

We dropped off the rest of the lights for our friend on the Quiescent. Hello, Charlie! Good luck with the lights.
We were lucky to get a complimentary overnight slip at the most sought-after marina in DC immediately following the parade. We won’t have to sail home until after breakfast and coffee the next morning, which is otherwise known in my book as the perfect start to our holiday season on the river.

Up Next Week: Sailing in the boat parade. Will we freeze during the two hour sail at night in December? Will the private party at the end of the parade warm us up?




11 thoughts on “Holiday Boat Parade of Lights: Getting Ready

  1. A lovely post. Avoiding Black Friday and being on the boat brings back a much simpler life & pleasures. We were out on our boat in Possession Sound off Everett, Wa on both Friday & Saturday. Not much wind each day, only about 2 hrs of wind >5kts. However, the big treat came on Saturday when out of the quiet (we were sailing @ that moment) there was a blow 5 yards off the starboard & a grey whale. She/he surfaced twice more by the boat. It was an immense treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know there was a boat parade of lights. It took some time to find info on it. I may just get the wife and go to DC to watch the boats come in. 🙂

    When I showed her pictures of past years events, she was interested in decorating my boat with lights when it’s in the water again.

    Hope the weather holds up for your trip. Looks like a lot of fun.


  3. Hello! There is also a good viewing spot and activities in Old Town Alexandria if you don’t want to drive into DC. If you end up in Old Town, park on the street or in a garage near the intersection of King Street and Union Street. The Torpedo Factory arts center is at the intersection right on the water and there is a dock directly behind it with a small marina, a good water view and probably many couples and families. There are a few good restaurants back there to get a bite to eat or a drink at the bar. Keep going along the dock as it makes its way along the river to the left and you’ll find a nice safe walking path along the river with a good view of the Wilson Bridge and the boats.
    Here’s the link-

    Keep an eye out for the two sailboats in the middle!


    1. Charles was on the fence about it until I announced that I had 5,000 lights.
      The nighttime sail is going to be a little chilly but it won’t be as bad as our last trip home with 3-4′ swells and 30 kt. winds!

      I hope by Christmas you and Pam are somewhere warm and you can watch your local parade of lights. It killed me to read your post this morning because I was imagining is dealing with that. So sorry you’re dealing with that expensive mess!


  4. About ten years ago, we took our three daughters and our two large breed dogs and ventured to Alexandria for Independence Day. We threw blankets down on the bans of the Potomac to watch the fireworks on July 4th. I’m sure the parade of lights is impressive. I have fond memories of Alexandria.


  5. Oh wow! that was fun. Didn’t realize there would be SO many people there on the docks. Still, I had a good time. Took my wife and my dad who was visiting and they enjoyed it too. All the boats looked really good out on the water. My wife (who hasn’t been on a sailboat, yet) is already talking about wanting to decorate my boat and participate in the future when it’s fixed and in the water.

    Liked by 1 person

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