How do you design, build and install a 22-foot long octopus on a 20-foot long boat? Read on and all of your (ok, most of your) questions will be answered!
The San Pedro Holiday Boat Parade is such a fun event. And of course, we had to put our best creative feet forward again when designing and constructing our float for the 2017 parade!
What happens when two overachievers meet and fall in love when they are teenagers? They retire early and end up with a giant octopus on their boat
What does it take to create a 22-foot long octopus?
- LED lights, lots and lots of them: 60 feet of yellow, 25 feet of green, 75 feet of white, 50 feet of red and 150 feet of blue.
- Zip ties, lots and lots of them. Our best guess is we used about 600 of them to secure the PVC pipes and lights.
- 180 feet of PVC pipes
- Over 50 bolts
- Over 40 hours of “free time”
- 2 oven mitts
- 1 heat gun
- Ice cold beer. Beer. That’s probably the most important item on this list!
It all starts with the idea. Here is the drawing:
Notice anything striking about the drawing? Maybe the fact that the octopus is SOOOOO much larger than our actual boat?
Once we had the concept, it was time to design it and estimate the number of PVC pipes we needed to construct it.
We decided the best way to “draw” the design was with ropes. (Luckily we have TONS of ropes.)
And just like that, we have an octopus!
We measured out all of the ropes and went to town to buy the PVC pipes. 180 feet in all. Last year we drove the pipes home in our golf cart, which although very entertaining for everyone we passed, was slightly difficult.
So this year, we had them delivered. Much easier!
The other thing that made it easier for us this year is that we already had the base built from last year……so all we had to do was to build the octopus so it stood on top of the base. Simple!
One base + one octopus = one boat float
Here is the base from last year:
We borrowed a chop saw from our friend Rob (Thank you!!) and a heat gun from our bodega and we were ready for the construction phase!
The first step, make the head:
We just kept heating up the pipe and bending it until we had an octopus head.
Dooley Bear was not at all interested in our project. He didn’t even come inside of the garage.
Next up, 8 octopus arms!
With one arm complete, it was time to celebrate with an ice cold beer before moving on to the second arm.
Note to self: When working with a heat gun DO NOT lose focus and let it touch your bicep!
Three weeks later, Lisa is still nursing her severe bicep burn.
After we had 4 arms complete, Ronnie determined we definitely needed some crossbars to support them.
Still no help from Dooley Bear.
Here’s Ronnie creating the eyes which were designed to slide left to right and back again. It’s always good to have movement in your boat float.
Time to make the hat!
We brought out the base and installed our “almost-octopus” on top of it to see if it would stand. And it did!
Dooley Bear was not just uninterested, he turned his back on us. As if he was saying, “I don’t know these people”.
Time to make the last two octopus arms and the present. Because we couldn’t just make a giant octopus. We had to make a giant octopus with eyes that moved who was wearing a santa hat holding a present. If you look at the word overachiever in the dictionary, we are pretty sure there would be a picture of us.
We attached the arms and the present to the base.
Skeleton complete, it was time for some icy rewards! (The water was for Dooley Bear.)
Although as you can see, Dooley Bear was more interested in sleeping.
We brought out boxes and boxes of LED lights…
And bags of zip ties…
Time to start attaching the lights!!! Now it’s getting exciting!
So exciting that Dooley Bear actually woke up! Can’t you tell his excitement level by the look in his eyes?
Ronnie was super excited to attach the lights.
Now that the arms are done, time to light up the hat and face.
Time to create the mouth!
Look at how happy our octopus is to have a big smile.
Now Dooley Bear could see the vision and he was excited too!
The final steps were lighting up two green eyes and the present.
The present –
The night before the big parade, the Palapa Bar and Grill hosted a Captain’s Party. Dee passed out our numbers and gave us the “rules” as we enjoyed complimentary rum drinks, beer and food.
We were given number 8, We were “The Ocho”. So perfect. Our octopus has 8 legs.It was definitley a very good sign.
The Magic 8 ball was predicting, “All signs point to a win!”
Complimentary snacks –
The morning of the parade Ronnie and the guys at Grand Caribe carefully brought the octopus creation out of the garage.
Yay! Our masterpiece actually fit through the door! Whew! (We were just slightly concerned about that!)
Now just to carry it to the boat.
The carefull installation of Mr. Octopus.
We cannot thank our Grand Caribe family enough for all of their help with our crazy ideas. We would never be able to do this on our own.
Supporting the structure with lots of ratchets and straps.
Ronnie supporting the front arms and present with ropes.
It’s very, very, very, important to use straps and ratchets to tie down the masterpiece to the base and the base to the boat. If you don’t, it will go tumbling into the Caribbean Sea and take a swim!
3 short hours later, we were parade ready! (Or so we thought)
At 5:00 the 3 of us boarded our boat float and started driving to town for the 5:30 lineup.
You know how we said straps and ratchets are very important because if you don’t do a good job with them your creature will take a swim? Well, with the wind and waves the night of the parade, Mr. Octopus started leaning, then leaning more and then he started falling! Thankfully Ronnie is a genius engineer under stressful situations. We turned the boat into the wind and used the wind to keep him upright. Just at the right time a big wave came and pushed the octopus back even more and Ronnie was able to throw a line up and around the top and secure him again using these fancy knots.
Whew! That was a close call. We almost lost our entire 3 weeks work after 5 minutes on the boat!
Ronnie is the knot master.
We finally made it to the parade lineup around 6:15….45 minutes late. We apologized for being late, but it’s Belize. So we were not the last boat to arrive!
There were 9 boats that participated this year and everyone did such a great job.
In case you are wondering, we did win first prize this year!
That’s two years in a row for these two overachievers. We hope that our insanity inspires others to challenge themselves with their creations and that next year more people will join in the boat parade fun!
What’s not to love about this picture? Ronnie’s “Yeti to party” sweater? Our friend Edgar we pulled up on stage? The fact that Dooley Bear is sleeping? Yes, every time we meet the mayor, this is how we look.
On the ride home, we popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate our win!
Because even if we didn’t win a prize, we still had so many reasons to celebrate.
It’s always a lot of work to pull off our masterpieces, but the rewards always outweigh the time, money and injuries incurred. It’s not just about the prizes. It’s about the smiles on all of the faces we see and the cheering we hear from the crowds. This is such a special event for all of us in San Pedro and we love being part of our fun and crazy island community!
All right, all right.
We’ve had another very successful year.
So, after all that hard work,
It’s time to start preparations for next Christmas! – Elf