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Gasparilla sailing route changed because of weather concerns; boaters discouraged from taking part

A small craft advisory will be in effect Saturday, warning of rough water.

TAMPA, Fla. — The high seas will make it tough for pirates to safely navigate Tampa Bay-area waters during Gasparilla, prompting a major route change.

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla announced Friday afternoon that the Jose Gasparilla ship, led by Captain Peter Lackman, will begin sailing at noon Saturday from Port Tampa Bay.

The ship then will sail up the Ybor Channel, around Harbour Island and into the Seddon Channel toward the Tampa Convention Center. That's where, at 1 p.m., the pirates demand Mayor Jane Castor surrender the key to the city.

While hundreds of boats typically trail Jose Gasparilla during the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, people are advised not to take part this year given the forecast of high winds and rough water. A small craft advisory will be in effect through 7 p.m. Saturday.

"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," Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla said in a statement. 

"Additionally, anyone considering boating on parade day should monitor weather and small craft advisories and carefully follow any recommendations made by the United States Coast Guard and law enforcement."

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