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Sailing with Charlie: A Very Merry Yachtie Christmas

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Mocka Jumbies and Rum...

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It’s that time of year again where celebrations are in the air. Charlie’s not particularly religious but he was brought up saying Happy Christmas to people, so please be tolerant if he doesn’t say Happy Holidays; it’s a time for togetherness not divisiveness. The thing is that we all need a time where celebration of life should be paramount and there’s no better time than the various religious holidays in or around December: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. Nearly all faiths have a tradition of giving at this time and giving is the very essence of happiness; ‘the more you give, the more you get’ is the oft quoted phrase and there can be no doubt of its wisdom.

Charlie just loves Santa Claus. He epitomizes the act of giving by carrying a sack of toys on his back, riding by sleigh to all the families in the world, and distributing presents to children everywhere from Christmas Eve to Christmas morning – Wow! Something biblical about that. Of course he expects to be nourished for his efforts, so a mince pie and a glass of eggnog can be offered as a thank you.

Cooking, eating and sharing are all fundamental parts of Christmas but boaters sometimes have a hard time cooking a feast on a small two burner stove. Everything has to be done in stages, often days in advance. Christmas pudding, roast turkey, baked ham, and mince pies – it’s all pretty challenging and small yachts don’t always lend themselves to large crowds. So what’s the answer – a Christmas beach party under the palms, toes in the sand with every yachtie in the anchorage providing a dish or two and a bottle. In Grenada a few years ago Charlie, who just happened to be passing through, was told of a pot luck dinner that was being organized and … guess what? Three trays of brownies arrived at the beach with a special ingredient ‘pot for lucky boaters’ as one starry-eyed sailor described them. One Christmas Charlie’s significant other complained of all that cholesterol in the turkey and the rich gravy. “Why don’t we do a vegetarian dinner?” Charlie responded with his usual answer, “You are what you eat … Who wants to be a vegetable?”

Without hesitation she replied “OK, Turkey, have it your way.”

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Sharing is not only about food, of course. Many yachties are often short of cash but giving could entail something homemade like a special painting on a piece of driftwood, a piece of jewelry; a necklace made from sea glass, perhaps a hat woven from a palm frond, or even an engraved calabash bowl. It may not entail a material anything but maybe a beach clean-up or a day sail for land bound kids. It’s all about the energy and spirit of selflessness. Charlie used to think it was about giving his body to the pretty girl on the next boat – but the above mentioned significant other has warned him about that idea. Now, after a satisfying dinner and a cerebral brownie he’s going to just lay back on the sand, watch the sky and let his mind wander back to all the Christmas’s past.

Happy Christmas everyone and a Rollicking Boxing Day!


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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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