Celebrate the holidays nautical-style in a number of fun filled festivities. Here’s a sampling of what’s happening from the Bahamas to the Caribbean:
Lighted Boat Parades
Nearly 50 festively decorated power yachts launch from Puerto Rico’s Club Nautico de San Juan at 5pm on December 12th. The best viewing is from Bahia Urbana in Old San Juan or across the bay at Muelle Panamericano, a huge air conditioned dock in Isla Grande. An hour later and 100 miles to the east, boats decked with lights, ornaments and costume clad crew cruise through Christiansted in the St. Croix Boat Parade. Visiting boats welcome. Fireworks light up the harbor afterwards. On December 18th, St. Thomas hosts its nautical parade starting at 6pm. Join in or watch from the harbor front. Miracle on Main Street comes after, a shopping, dining and entertainment extravaganza. The Bitter End Yacht Club, in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, hosts its procession of bedecked boats on December 24th at 5:45pm. Santa and his merry elves lead the way aboard the resort’s 40ft powerboat, Ponce de Leon. Fabulous prizes are awarded for well-lit and creatively-decorated boats. There’s also an ‘anchored yacht’ category for large yachts.
The celebration season starts in Curaçao on December 5th with the arrival of Saint Nicholas by boat in St. Anna Bay, Willemstad, around 8am. Local sail and motorboats follow in the red-suited jolly fellow’s vessel’s wake and visiting yachts can join in. On December 10th, at the Antigua Yacht Club in Falmouth Harbor, students from the Island Academy International School present ‘Carols by the Sea’ at 6pm. Shop for gifts at the Annual Grenada Arts and Crafts Christmas Bazaar. It will be held December 13th, from 10am to 5pm at the Dodgy Dock Restaurant, True Blue Bay Resort. ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) participants and visiting sailors are invited to Fête Noel or traditional island-style Christmas caroling on December 14th, starting at 4pm at IGY’s Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia.
The rum punch flows freely every Monday in season, including December and January, at Marina at Emerald Bay’s ‘Happier Hour’. Guests at this marina, located in Great Exuma, Bahamas, can drink, eat from a huge buffet, and enjoy great friendship for free starting at 5:30pm. The St. Maarten Yacht Club puts on its annual Christmas Party in early December. Visiting yachtsmen are welcome, especially those with kids as Santa pays a visit bearing gifts. ‘Christmas Day in the Dockyard’ starts at 1pm in Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua, where, on December 25th, three different priced bottles of bubbly are available to commemorate the day. Dockyard restaurants, The Copper and Lumber Store Hotel and the Admirals Inn, serve full Christmas lunches. Celebrate Christmas in a heavenly way – under a full moon – in the British Virgin Islands. There are three great parties: Foxy’s Taboo on Diamond Cay, Jost Van Dyke, hosts a pig roast, Bomba’s Shack in Capoon’s Bay, Tortola, offers more adult-minded fun, while the Fireball Party in Trellis Bay, Beef Island, is family-friendly. On Old Year’s Night, enjoy an elegant buffet, open bar and music under the stars at Le Phare Bleu Boutique Hotel & Marina in Grenada. It all starts at 7:30pm on December 31st. Bring a dish to the Seven Seas Cruising Association’s (SSCA) New Year’s Potluck GAM on January 1st, starting at Noon in Trinidad at the Trinidad & Tobago Yachting Association’s headquarters in Chaguaramas. Cruising station host Jesse James of ‘Members Only’ Maxi Taxi Service offers a free shuttle service from local marinas. On January 3rd, Fuik Dag, Curaçao’s biggest boat party of the year happens in Spanish Waters, about six nautical miles southeast of Willemstad.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
There are two great places to anchor in the Grenadines to watch midnight fireworks on December 31st. One is Clifton Harbor, on Union Island and the other is Port Elizabeth, on Bequia. Both locales host celebrations before and after the sky sparkles ashore. North, on Jost Van Dyke, Foxy Callwood hosts his famous Old Year’s Night Celebration. Live music includes Barbados’ Nexcyx, the BVI’s Final Faze and St. Thomas’ DJ Avalanche, leading up to fireworks time. Those who want to trade barefoot bacchanal for a 5-star experience can make reservations for Foxy’s Upper Crust, where $450 per person gets you an open bar, 6-course dinner, VIP treatment and loads of fun masks and New Year’s Eve party favors.
Work off the calories of all those holiday goodies with some good old fashioned yacht racing. The Jamin’ Jamaica J/22 Invitational Regatta takes place out of the Montego Bay Yacht Club, in Jamaica, December 4th to 6th. In Antigua, there’s the High Tide Christmas Series run by the Antigua Yacht Club and principle sponsor Budget Marine – racing takes place December 20th, 23rd and 26th. To mark the end of the year, The Nelson Pursuit Race gets underway at 10am on December 31st, with prize-giving in the Dockyard.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.