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The Nail ‘N’ Sail race brings out fun costume themes. The contest is a longstanding Harbor Days tradition. Photo by Promise Yee
The Nail ‘N’ Sail race brings out fun costume themes. The contest is a longstanding Harbor Days tradition. Photo by Promise Yee
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Oceanside Harbor Days brings fun and tradition to shore

OCEANSIDE — Harbor Days will land at Harbor Beach Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, and bring music, wacky contests, food and pirates ashore. The annual beach festival has been held for more than 50 years.

Early on the first morning the amphibious Navy LCAC hovercraft will arrive by sea and drive onto the beach at 7 a.m.

“It’s an event in and of itself,” Kristi Hawthorne, Chamber of Commerce event coordinator, said. “It’s a really big crowd pleaser.”

The LCAC will join vintage vechicles from the Camp Pendleton Mechanized Museum that will be parked on shore. Visitors can get a firsthand look at vehicles that span military history from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Throughout the two days there will be numerous contests including a kids fishing derby, the 2.4-mile Tiki Swim and the beloved Nail ‘N’ Sail boat building competition and race.

The fishing derby takes place Sept. 27 at 8:30 a.m. at the harbor pier on the east side of the marina. Fishing poles and bait will be provided to allow young anglers, ages 6 through 12, an opportunity to try their hand at the sport.

On Sept. 28 the third annual Tiki Swim will take off from Oceanside Pier at 7:30 a.m. Swimmers will complete in a 2.4-mile open water swim to the harbor. Finish times usually range from 30 to 60 minutes.

“It’s grown quite a bit,” Hawthorne said. “There will be 500 swimmers.”

That same day, Nail ‘N’ Sail teams will begin boat building on the beach at 10:30 a.m.

“My favorite part of Harbor Days is the Nail ‘N’ Sail, it’s fun and so unpredictable,” Hawthorne said. “It’s a long-standing tradition.”

Teams dress and name their boats after fun themes like Vikings, hula dancers and Teletubbies. Many teams have competed for years.

While the Nail ‘N’ Sail competition is all in good fun, teams are focused on winning the boat race across the harbor at 2 p.m. and claiming contest prize money and bragging rights.

Harbor Days will also bring pirates to the marina. Captain Jack Sparrow will serve as master of ceremonies to kick off Harbor Days and announce the winners of the second annual amateur sandcastle building contest on Sept. 27 and the Nail ‘N’ Sail competition the following day. The captain and his pirate crew will be on site throughout the two-day festival.

Harbor Days features more than 200 food, craft and vendor booths, a beer garden, live entertainment, a firefighter pancake breakfast and police K-9 demonstrations.

A crowd of 30,000 is expected over the two days. There will be free parking and shuttle service from harbor parking lots and the Oceanside Transit Center.

Harbor Days is hosted by the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and Oceanside Harbor District. For more information, go to