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“DAMN THE TORPEDOES”

26th Annual Morgan Invasion, Treasure Island, FL, April 15-17 By Harmon Heed

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hat is the “Morgan Invasion”? The annual invasion of Treasure Island, FL, by a flotilla of 30-40 Morgan-designed or -built boats after which the invaders celebrate with gusto. The threeday occupancy includes partying, a regatta and camaraderie of Morgan boat owners and families led by the venerable admiral, Charley Morgan. This has been going on for 26 years. It started back in 1985 when Dr. Richard LaGrua, an avid sailor and member of the Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club, proposed that the club hold an annual event for boats designed and/or built by Charley Morgan. The doctor’s rules were: It was to be a fun event; in the regatta, spinnakers and protests were banned; and families, children and pets were encouraged to participate. Awards were to be Cindy Hunt, holding the shirt, skipper of Dungle Jums (third place), plus crew on the left. On the given out for the best-dressed right is Charley Morgan in the dark shirt and dockmaster Les Lathrop as pirate. Photo by Paul Payne. crews in pirate costumes and couldn’t bring their boat, was hosted by the Treasure Island for the boat judged to be the most “shipshape.” With the Tennis & Yacht Club for its first 20 years. (It was probably help of Mary (Sully) Lowe, the sponsorship of the approthe first time in history an entity “hosted” more than one priately chosen Morgan Spiced Rum and many local busiinvasion.) In 2006, with construction of a new yacht club nesses, the first Morgan Invasion was held in October of clubhouse under way, the Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa that year. was kind enough to be the host. And it did so again in 2007 It continued to be held on the first weekend of October when the drawbridge at John’s Pass, Treasure Island’s gateuntil 2005 when the Invasion date was changed to the first way to the Gulf of Mexico, was under construction. In 2008, weekend in April to get it out of the hurricane season. 2004 the Invasion got back to the barrier islands when the St. Pete was a devastating season that damaged many Morgans, YC at Pass-a-Grille hosted it. In 2009, it was back home at other boats and marinas all over the South. Treasure Island. The event, often attended by Morgan boat owners who During those years the cost of the new TIT&YC clubhouse went through the roof, and the club was on the brink of bankruptcy. Local businessman Bill Edwards stepped up and bought the club. He also renamed it “The Club Treasure Island.” Perhaps Bill thought the acronym, TIT&YC a bit too risqué. In 2010, the Morgan Invasion made Suncoast Hospice the benefactor of its charity and named it the Morgan Invasion Hospice Regatta... The Invasion begins on Friday with long-time dockmaster Les Lathrop rafting up the invaders. On Friday night, the partying begins at the beautiful pool and tiki bar area adjacent to the dock. Saturday morning breakfast is served in the elegant new clubhouse, and then the boats convoy out through John’s Pass to race in the Gulf. Saturday night is the big party, but some call it debauchery—aargh, Matey! On Sunday morning is another great breakfast with 42

July 2011

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