Sailing With Charlie: ♫♪♫ Jingle Shells, Jingle Shells, Jingle All The Way ♫♪♫

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

What a wonderful month to be sailing in the Caribbean. Hurricane season is behind us. Christmas winds give sailors the joy of exciting sailing with 15 to 30 knots, crisp salt spray over the bow and green islands on the horizon – an unparalleled gift of nature. And that is what the month of December is all about, especially Christmas. It’s a time of goodwill; a time for sharing; a time for giving. 

As a child Charlie couldn’t wait for Christmas. Christmas morning was the only time Charlie woke up early, even before dawn. And yes, stockings were stuffed with goodies like chocolates, small toys, playing cards perhaps, a harmonica or other noise maker, candied fruit, bubble gum, a sailboat model … the list goes on. Then, before Christmas lunch was served, all the presents under the tree were opened. It was a never-ending gluttonous spree.

Now Charlie is a fully-grown man (physically, at least) and there isn’t much that he desires in the form of presents. But he gets great pleasure out of seeing the smiles of joy, happiness and gratitude from those on the receiving end of his generosity. In other words, the giving is more satisfying than the receiving. Of course there are exceptions. How many times have you given effusive thanks for a gift you didn’t want, didn’t need but couldn’t spoil the good-natured intent of the giver? Answer: a gift voucher or the rather gauche gift of cash, wrapped in pretty paper and accompanied by a flower. There will always be smiles of delight from the recipient when he imagines that now he can buy that previously thought to be too expensive gilhickie or luxury item. 

So what do you get for the sailor that has everything? Answer: a sailor never has everything. But if anti fouling paint or a supply of zinc anodes doesn’t sound too sexy what about (for your man) some new navigation instruments, a book (hint, hint – a guide book of a longed-for destination), a piece of whale tooth scrimshaw, a set of non-spill coffee mugs. (Keep away from things like paint brushes, cans of varnish, tools; these are just a reminder of work). For your lady – well a bikini – probably appreciated by you as well; perhaps a sun hat, visor or straw hat; an electronic reading device for long passage entertainment. And for the single hander: a copy of Playboy or Hustler magazine … and the kids: scuba lessons, mask and snorkel, skull and crossbones flag or cool board shorts.   

When all is said and done Christmas is all about joy and happiness. If you’re short of cash offer a Christmas day sail on your boat, a snorkel on your favorite reef, a hunt for conch, a hike to a salt pond. Then allow the guests to do the sailing, trim and ease sheets, tack and jibe as necessary. The gift of an adventure could be the BEST gift of all.

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