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Harbor Days brings out inner swashbucklers

OCEANSIDE — A weekend of swashbuckling fun came to Oceanside Harbor as tall ships, pirates, nail and sail races and live entertainment celebrated Harbor Days Sept. 24 and Sept. 25.
A crowd of approximately 40,000 enjoyed the two-day event.
This year a 2.4-mile open water swim and artisans village was added to the festival. Twenty fine arts booths were set up at the harbor village.
“It’s a nice addition to Harbor Days,” said Kristi Hawthorne, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce event coordinator.
The Tiki Swim Marathon also took place Sept. 25. More than 200 swimmers raced from the Oceanside Pier to the harbor.
“There’s something for everyone, young and old,” Hawthorne said. “There’s a children’s zone in the pirate village, a beer garden, and live music that’s very popular with the younger crowd. There’s no other festival or fair that can compare to Harbor Days.”
In the pirate village, 30 pirates set up camp for the weekend. Visitors could interact with them and watch choreographed sword fights.
The nail and sail races saw teams of three given a limited supply of lumber and nails to build a boat on site within two hours. Then two team members would race the boat across the width of the harbor. Fun themes and costumes were part of the competition. This year, teams dressed as Vikings, nuns, hula dancers and other zany characters. The final heat brought fierce competition as the fastest boats raced head-to-head. Horry Masters, built and raced by Matt Marquez, Sam Altman Jr. and Robert Zipper, won best craftsmanship and almost tied with the winners Two Hour Yacht Club, built and raced by Robert Bakalyar, John Bakalyar and Allen Bakalyar.
“This is our first year, it’s pretty exciting,” said Kim Bakalyar, Two Hour Yacht Club supporter. “We will do something to best this next year.”
Another event highlight was the arrival of the Amazing Grace topsail schooner. The three gun tall ship is run by a mix of professional crewmembers and volunteer sailors. Volunteers sign on for their love of the vintage ship and the sea.
“It’s like living history all over again,” said Wesley McCord, 13, volunteer foredeck captain.
Harbor Days has been held for over 50 years. It was first celebrated in the Camp Pendleton Boat Basin before the city built the harbor.