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Cruising on the White Holly

December 14, 2008

When I was a much younger lad I used to help decorate boats for
Christmas Parades. I know we never considered doing anything like what
we did last night.

The vessel White Holly was our 140 foot platform for a Christmas Boat never seen before. We had Epiphany, a 25 foot tall steel sculpture that belches flames from her heart. This piece by Dan Das Mann & Karen Cusolito was at Burning Man in 2007 (Crude Awakening), and at MakerFaire in 2008. Jack Schroll contributed three amazing cold war relics. He brought El Diablo, a jet engine-powered flamethrower capable of shooting colored flames 30 feet into the air. He also brought an M3A4 Smoke Generator that can obscure a battleship in under a minute. On the back deck he had a Victory Siren, the loudest siren ever made. Additionally, there was a million volt Tesla Coil hanging from a crane off the side of the boat, and we had propane poofers from the Flaming Lotus Girls and Bob Hoffman. To top it all off there were thousands of feet of Christmas Lights.

White Holly with Epiphany

First we had to test the Tesla Coil to make sure it didn't ignite anything like people, propane tanks or beer. This would be very critical later. Once we tested, we were underway.

Testing the Tesla Coil:

Our plan was a simple one. We entered the boat in the Sausalito Yacht Club's annual Christmas Boat Parade. We were going to do a little culture jamming, but we wanted to be the very last boat so that we wouldn't disturb what other people were doing. If some former commodore of the yacht club had entered his boat, it would have been rude to upstage him in the middle of the parade. So we waited as the rest of the illuminated flotilla drifted by. Then we got in line. I couldn't help thinking about the part in the movie Animal House where Delta House enters their own float, a car turned into a cake that said "Eat Me," to disturb the annual parade. This could really end badly. No matter what happened, we were on our way to crash a party.

One by one, the boats paraded past the yacht club peacefully enough.
To the credit of the Sausalito Yacht Club, they held their own when it
came to decorating boats. No boat looked like ours because outside of
a sea battle, no boat has ever looked like ours.

photo by Josh Hunter

All the laid-back fun came to an end when we came around the point. We had the Tesla Coil running, Epiphany firing off, El Diablo operating full, the smoke generator running strong, and the Victory Siren sounding short blasts.

photo by Lois Lane 74

Some of our compatriots were on shore at the yacht club to get the inside scoop. People were eating dinner and enjoying the boat parade until the White Holly came into view. The restaurant completely cleared out in a few seconds as everyone, waiters included, came out on the deck to see the demented scene that powered its way past the club.

After we passed the Sausalito Yacht Club, we fired off the Victory Siren for a full three minutes to leave our calling card. Then a 500 shell pyrotechnic show supplied by the Yacht Club fired off.

Running the Victory Siren:

Shore View of the White Holly:

Another Video that doesn't Embed Well:

After this, a 500 shell pyrotechnic show supplied by the Yacht Club fired off.

I did a little research into the history Sausalito Yacht Club. I have no idea what kind of stuffy affair it might be these days, but our little outing would have brought a smile to the faces of some of the founders. My guess is that Ford, Enzensperger and Densmore would have approved.

This truly was an amazing night. Low and behold, the White Holly took first place. I hope we can do something just like that some place really soon. Contact me and I will inform the rest of the people involved.

For more information on the Victory Siren, El Diablo and the Smoke Generator, visit

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