29th Annual Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla

Decorated boats at nighttime

A popular Crystal Coast tradition will return for its 29th year along the Morehead City and Beaufort waterfronts.

The Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla features boats, yachts, oars, kayaks and commercial vessels decorated for the season. The boat parade can be seen Dec. 4 starting around 5:30 p.m. along the Morehead City waterfront and then around 6:15 p.m. along the Beaufort waterfront.

“The flotilla is such a fun and unique event,” Brent Creelman said. Creelman is the director of operations of the Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which hosts the annual Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla. Proceeds from the event help support the Friends’ Junior Sailing Program, which has received more than $60,000 in support from the flotilla and its associated events.

“We always have a great turnout for the event,” Creelman said.

The members-only Friends’ Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla Viewing Party begins at 5:30 that evening at the museum’s Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center and Harborside Park deck. Tickets to the rain or shine event are $60. Sponsorships of various levels are also available for the Viewing Party.

New this year to the flotilla activities is a Deck the Dock contest. Decorated docks along Taylors Creek will judged between Dec. 1 and 3 from the water and the street. A 3-foot by 5-foot “Best Decorated Dock 2021” flag will be awarded on Dec. 4 for display on Saturday evening during the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla and throughout the following year. To participate, submit your name and street address by Dec. 1 to brent@maritimefriends.org.

Boats may register to participate in the flotilla until noon on Dec. 4, the day of the flotilla. There is no entry fee. The parade route starts in Morehead City and ends at the Beaufort Hotel/34° North Restaurant where judges will select their favorites. Prizes, which will be distributed the week after the flotilla, include stays at the hotel and meals at its restaurant. Free docking (there is a charge for power) will be available at the Beaufort Town Docks, subject to availability, for those boaters who want to spend some time downtown.

For more information, register a vessel or sponsor the viewing party, call (252) 728-2762 or email brent@maritimefriends.org. Tickets to the viewing party are available online at MaritimeFriends.org.

About the Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort

The Friends of the Museum serves an essential role as the nonprofit support group and membership organization for the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Since 1977, the Friends organization has initiated and supported museum programs, maintained boat and equipment inventories for use by these programs, administered the boat donation program, and owned property for museum use.

Additionally, the Friends initiate a number of fundraising efforts in support of Museum programs and exhibits. For more information about the Friends of the Maritime Museum, visit MaritimeFriends.com or call 252-728-1638.

About the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort

The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort reflects coastal life and interprets lighthouses and lifesaving stations, the seafood industry, motorboats, and more. Studies in marine life, science, and ecology are available for all ages. The Beaufort Museum is the repository for artifacts from Blackbeard’s wrecked flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, among them cannons, grenades, belt buckles and beads. The Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center teaches boatbuilding for all ages.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum, located at 315 Front Street in Beaufort, is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. The museum is open to the public with free admission. Donations are always appreciated. For more information about the museum, call 252-504-7740 or visit ncmaritimemuseumbeaufort.com.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum system is comprised of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Beaufort and the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport. All three museums are part of the Division of State History Museums in the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The system website is ncmaritimemuseums.com.

By Cyndi Brown, Public information officer, N.C. Maritime Museums