TAMPA — Rough seas have driven the Gasparilla pirates to change their voyage of invasion Saturday and join the city of Tampa in discouraging small boats from trailing along behind them.
Instead of sailing south to north from the vicinity of Ballast Point into Hillsborough Bay, its traditional path, the flagship Jose Gasparilla will set off at noon from Port Tampa Bay.
The new route: up the Ybor Channel, around Harbour Island, and into Seddon Channel. Their destination remains the same: the Tampa Convention Center, where Mayor Jane Castor is scheduled to surrender the key to city at 1 p.m.
“In the interest of boater safety, we strongly discourage small vessels from participating in this year’s flotilla and recommend guests enjoy the invasion and parade from land,” said Jessica Eckley, spokeswoman for Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. “Additionally, anyone considering boating on parade day should monitor weather and small craft advisories.”
Ye Mystic Krewe, which puts on the annual Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of Pirates, has said earlier that it wasn’t changing plans despite a weather forecast for Saturday that includes a small craft advisory.