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Cruising Tales: A Very Special Christmas Day

When by the luck of the draw, the whim of the charterer, the gamble of air flights, icky U. S. weather or for whatever reason that gives you time off on Christmas day, take advantage of it. DO SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND ENJOY IT!

The busiest week of the charter season in the Caribbean is from just before Christmas day through the New Year. One year Mike was offered the job to skipper an Irwin 68 for a week’s charter right after Christmas starting at St. Thomas in the U. S. Virgin islands. My chef’s job didn’t begin on another boat until after Christmas either, so for the first time in a dozen years we had Christmas day off.  Whoopie!

What to do? Get some friends together, have fun and forget the fancy Christmas cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and elaborate turkey dinners. This was a special day to do something different besides play. Although most everyone else had charters, we managed to gather some friends on Christmas day which turned out to be very special for everyone involved. Mike was going to be Santa Claus and we, his comely “elvesses” (feminine elves?), would assist him.

We were able to put our Christmas plan into action because there just happened to be a complete Santa Claus costume—beard, boots and all—on board the Irwin 68. On Christmas morning Mike was able to squeeze into the outfit provided he didn’t breathe too deeply or eat too much. The elvesses were assembled, and we motored from St. Thomas to Christmas Cove at Great St. James, which was jammed with cruising boats, locals and a few charter boats.

Christmas is usually a special time for the guests aboard boats but there are drawbacks for the young children. There can’t be a huge tree loaded with ornaments. Only a little tree is possible since most boats don’t have the overhead for a large one.  There’s no fireplace to hang their special stockings, and there aren’t many presents for them because Santa Claus can’t bring them very many, can he?

The main worry was—how could Santa Claus find them if they weren’t at home? It wasn’t like being at their grandparents’ house. No one left him any directions on where they were even though their parents kept saying that he would be able to find them. But even if Santa Claus could find them, how was he going to get a boat big enough to carry his reindeer, sleigh and presents? And how could he get aboard?

Being on a big boat was all very exciting, different and fun, but how could they have Christmas without Santa Claus?

Playing a Christmas carol tape at high volume, we got the attention of the whole cove when Santa Claus appeared at the bow and bellowed “Merry Christmas” and multitudinous “Ho, Ho, Ho”s. The elvesses stationed themselves on both sides of the boat, ready with their ammunition—all kinds of Christmas candies.

When those candies started bombarding the decks of the anchored boats, you can imagine the surprise and delight of both big and little youngsters. Santa Claus had arrived by boat and found them after all! He was bringing them candy! (He must have given Rudolph and the other reindeer time off!)

The surprise and joy on their little faces was a beautiful and heartwarming sight to behold. All of the charter guests, their crews and locals responded—whistling, cheering and shrieking “Merrrrrry Chrissstmas” and “HO HO HO” at the top of their lungs, too.

It was, indeed, one of the very best Christmases that Santa Claus and his elvesses ever had!

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