The Coast News Group
The Nail ‘n’ Sail race is a Harbor Days crowd favorite. Photo by Promise Yee

Harbor Days soon to hit Oceanside shores

OCEANSIDE — The 51st annual Harbor Days festival will hit North Oceanside Harbor shores Sept. 29 and Sept. 30. 

The two-day event is expected to draw 40,000 spectators.

“It really is unique,” Kristi Hawthorne, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce event coordinator, said. “There is no other street fair or festival that has the wide variety of entertainment.”

“The No. 1 favorite activity is the Nail ‘n’ Sail on Sunday,” Hawthorne added.

The popular Nail ‘n’ Sail boat building competition and race gives teams a set amount of wood, nails and chalking and a limited time to build a boat. Then boats are raced across the harbor.

Boat teams dress in costumes to go with the theme of their boat design.

The competition is fierce and in good fun. Prizes are awarded to best boat design, and first-, second- and third-place finishes.

There is also the unwelcome prize given to the first boat to sink.

Another event highlight is the pirate village. Pirate re-enactors will be in full costume and character. Visitors can stop by the village to watch a sword fight and interact with the band of pirates.

“Kids coming are so excited to see Capt. Jack Sparrow,” Hawthorne said. “The pirates are always a lot of fun.”

Brand new this year will be the Tsunami Skydivers team jumps at 3 p.m. Sept. 29.

This will be the second year for the open water Tiki Swim. Swimmers race from the south side of the Oceanside Pier to the harbor. Three hundred swimmers are expected to compete in the 2.4-mile race.

In addition to a food court, 200 vendors, live music and a beer garden, there will also be a display of military vehicles on the beach. The ginormous Navy amphibian hovercraft will make its landing at about 7 a.m. Sept. 29 and take off at approximately 6 p.m. September 30.

“The hovercraft landing on the beach is an amazing thing,” Hawthorne said.

Free parking and shuttle bus service to the event is available at the transit center and outer harbor parking lots.

The first Harbor Days celebration was held at Camp Pendleton Del Mar Boat Basin in 1962. It celebrated the anticipation of the Oceanside small craft harbor opening the following year.

Harbor Days is organized by the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce.