Christmas Afloat 🎅🏼🎄🎁🤶🏼

Christmas on a boat feels different. Obviously, boats don’t lend themselves to hosting real Christmas trees (though I know innovative liveaboards who welcome into their cabins tiny trees with diminutive ornaments). Getting into the Christmas spirit thus (at least for me) takes a lot more focus.

Our boat means:

❌ Christmas tree,

❌ holiday lights,

❌ space for baking seasonal goodies,

❌ room for presents to linger festively (we can’t have more stuff on the boat anyway, so it’s all about “experience gifts,” like museum memberships),

❌ lounging in pajamas and being completely lazy on the days off (because, no matter what, someone has to walk Boat Dog up and down the dock to get to the grass to do his doggie business).

And working for myself means I spend a lot of these quieter days getting ahead on projects. So “feeling” the holidays takes a bit of effort. Lucky for us, our dock- and marina-mates do decorate, and the marina puts up a ton of lights, and houses in the neighborhoods around the marina have Santa hanging out.




Perhaps I qualify as a Christmas mooch, sponging holiday spirit off others. Regardless—mooch or appreciative audience—I do enjoy the decorations around me since our boat in no way betrays any sign of the season except for a festive little snow globe a friend’s nine-year-old daughter gave me (a gift that pretty much made my holiday season).


Unlike our boat, though, the weather does betray an appropriate knowledge of the season, with rain and a chill and darkness lingering all day. Yesterday, for instance, the Bosun, Boat Dog, and I stuffed ourselves into the boat as storms blew over and soaked the bay. Work kept me busy, and the Bosun wrote songs. The close quarters felt cozy.

Looking at us from a mental distance, this snuggled-in tableau reminded me of all the books I’ve read in which voyagers have celebrated Christmas under sail. So many sailors have described loved ones stowing gifts away for the adventurer to find and open on Christmas: beverages, treats, books, letters.... While GPS, satellite communication, and all the technology that allows sailors to text and blog and chat with families far, far away lets people stay connected now (even when these sailors battle the Southern Ocean or cross a 64-million-square-mile Pacific), the idea of finding a tucked-away stocking stuffer still seems so completely charming. Should I find myself off Pitcairn Island or heading into Fatu Hiva some Yuletide, I hope I’ll find a little surprise squirreled away in some deep storage cubby.

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