Boating meets Art ! Our Parade of lights experiments

Our fantastic mermaids Sarah and Sabrina kept the fisherman trying to catch them all night!

Our fantastic mermaids Sarah and Sabrina kept the fisherman trying to catch them all night!

Last year we did the semi-impossible: in a matter of 4 days, we decided to join the Xmas Parade of Lights with Aldebaran and won Grand Prize.

This year, we wanted to raise the bar even higher. We put on a fantastic show. We lost. But here’s the story of why we ultimately won.

Jason the fisherman was catching the mermaids at the bow

Jason the fisherman trying to catch the mermaids at the bow with a lighted pole

Black Rock City, Nevada. The art cars at Burning Man blew our minds! We are driving back from the desert feeling horribly dusty and utterly inspired. “Let’s make an Art Boat for the parade of lights!!” we decided.

Santa Barbara, California. We had ambitions to build a big Pygmy Mammoth on the boat, since the theme was originally Jungle Love — but when the theme shifted to Gone Fishing, we took some liberties, and decided to Go Phishing!

The great jam band Phish had just played at the Santa Barbara bowl and we loved their famous cover of 2001 Space Odyssey — so we called our boat the “2015 Ocean Odyssey”, and set about making a big party.

Photo: Lara Cooper / Noozhawk. Okiva in her lit up glory!

Photo: Lara Cooper / Noozhawk. Okiva in her lit up glory!

Our fine ship Aldebaran was stuck in the boatyard due to delays… bummed!  Good news, we recruited our good friend Spencer to use his iconic cruising boat, the 41ft “Okiva”.

The Idea. The lighting master Coronel Mango had a vision: blue and greens creating an underwater scene on deck, with contrasting red lights on the hull, and green laser like a phosphorescence trail off the back. Captain Spencer wanted a fisherman aloft, and we wanted mermaids. Voilá!  Nothing like the usual Christmas string of lights — we wanted to put on a SHOW.

The installation. The night before the parade, we had a last minute stroke of insight: let’s blast white work lights during the song’s epic climaxes, controlled by simple power strip plugs!  Super caveman style, as the Coronel described it, but he was willing to try.

The parade. The morning of the parade, we put up the 25+ spotlights, and without dry running once, set off at sunset to join the parade. While navigating the chaos afloat, we tried our “caveman” setup — it was worse than we thought. The coronel had to stand next to the generators, inhaling exhaust fumes, not being able to hear the music over their deafening noise. I had to signal to him from on deck when to flip the switches! Believe me, this was not simple amidst the mayhem.

Somehow we pulled it off. A video from a friend’s iPhone was pretty amazing.  (We’ll post it here in a day or two, come back to see it)

The results.  We ended up winning second place in the sailboat division. We all had an absolute blast, thrilled a lot of people, and brought serious joy into the the night. We felt like winners in our minds… Plus, our boat made front page of the paper!! Hurray to the merger of boating and art!

2013 grand prize winner Aldebaran! Dressed up as a James Brown Funky Christmans show.

Photo: Ronald Williams.  2013 grand prize winner Aldebaran! Dressed up as a James Brown Funky Christmans show.

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