The R/V Desmond Valdes underway along the bayfront during the Regatta of Lights.
This past Saturday evening the 30th annual Regatta of Lights was hosted in Matanzas Bay. Along the bayfront a festive throng gathered to view and enjoy illuminated boats from our port. Twenty-eight vessels participated this year with the Black Raven acting as the grand marshal. Three cannon shots from the Castillo were loosed and the dark pirate ship responded with two of her own. That was the signal for the parade to begin.

Desmond Valdes Jr. and Desmond Valdes III at the helm.
Earlier in the week, decorations were prepared for the boat. We had two panels designed, one with the lighthouse on it and one with the ship and beam from the LAMP logo. Accordingly, the boat was illuminated with strings of lights and a full-size US Lighthouse Service pennant was flying from a pole off our stern. On board we had a full compliment and were happy to host members of the Valdes family. It was a special occasion to have Desmond Valdes Jr. (Capt.) and Desmond Valdes III (chief mate) onboard. Sam Turner and family also joined us and Wendy Thompson, of the Lighthouse and Yacht Club accompanied as our creative and decorative genius.
Cece and John enjoying twilight on Salt Run as we head to the staging grounds.
A shot of our lights, taken from the bow pulpit.
We departed at 5:15 from the Lighthouse Boat Ramp for a cruise to the staging area. A cool, but beautiful sunset heralded the day’s end but the beginning of the evening’s festivities. A little after 6:00, the cannons sounded and we made our way past the sea wall and judging stand. Each boat fell into the procession and we went round the mooring field twice. The 1812 privateer Lynx joined us and paraded on her own course down the main channel, firing her carronades on the return trip. Overall, the evening was splendid and we all had a really good time. But, the fun wasn’t over when the parade ended. The St. Augustine Yacht Club hosts a bang-up party for all of the participants at the end of the parade. Held at the Yacht Club headquarters on Salt Run we docked the boat, secured it for the evening, and joined the festivities. At the awards ceremony we were excited and happy to receive 2nd place in the Best Overall Theme category.
This year was our second year of participating in the Regatta of Lights and we hope for it to become a tradition for the Lighthouse and LAMP. We would like to thank the Valdes family for their support and for joining us, the St. Augustine Yacht Club for organizing and hosting this great event, the Schuyler family for generous dockage, to ‘Tank’ Brunswick for helping set up, to all of our Lighthouse employees who helped design and create our light display, and to the event sponsors who made the event possible!
Our compliment enjoying the evening. Chilly but comfortable!