The Nail and Sail competition is one of the most beloved events held during Harbor Days in Oceanside and most agree it gets better every year.
To compete, teams of three are given two 4-by-8-foot pieces of wood, nails and caulking, and a two-hour time limit to build a boat, said Robert Luke of Carlsbad, who was cheering on the El Camino Real Rotary Nail and Sail team. Design themes and costumes were encouraged.
Completed boats hit the water off Dolphin Dock with a two-man crew to paddle across the width of the harbor and back.
Boats are awarded for the best visual design and the fastest finish in the race.
“A boat appealing to the eye looks good and functions well,” Luke said. “Fastest (finish), just happens.”
The Nail and Sail competition also has a youth division, which is judged by the same rules, for teams with younger members. Boy Scout Troop 752 of Oceanside entered three teams in the youth competition. While there is no merit badge involved, there is a lot of team building and fun. “It’s just boys being boys, doing what boys do,” Paul Cleary, Troop 752 committee chair, said.
The Cain’s Crew competed as a family team, with team members Frank Cain, Jacob Cain, 10, and Bridget Cain, 8.
“Frank wanted to do it with the kids,” Jana Cain said. “We’re trying to build a family tradition.”
There are many traditions associated with the Nail and Sail competition, like crazy costumes, regular winners and even regular losers. “The tradition is the Coast Guard boat sinks first,” Coast Guard Executive Petty Officer Mike Aguilera said. “We’re professional at saving people, not necessarily at building ships.”
And true to tradition, this year the Coast Guard team was just a few yards away from the take-off dock when they sank and set off a rescue flare.