Wondering what’s it like to have Christmas if you’re living on a boat?
Christmas is a very special time of year for me and by default, for my family. Miss 11 and I are like Will Ferrell in that Elf movie when he realises Santa is coming. We go all out for Christmas. It doesn’t slow us down that we’re living on a boat – we still have decorations, presents, a tree and fruit mince pies, but most importantly joy. So what does Christmas look like on a boat?
Do you Decorate?
Yes we do! In fact my favourite find this Christmas has been the battery operated Christmas lights at the overflow store for under $4. I got so crazy buying them up for all over the boat I even bought some plain white ones for inside my wardrobe because it’s so dark in there, they only take two AA batteries and provide heaps of light. We also have permanent coloured solar operated outdoor lights under the canopy on the aft deck (which is a great tip if you want to be able to step on board at night, they allow you to see just well enough to get safely on board and put the key in the door.) We have a (small) Christmas tree with fibre optic lights which folds up nicely for the other 11 months of the year. The girls love their Advent calendar which we received from their uncle, aunty and cousins years ago. It’s made of felt and a new decoration is hung on it each day leading up to Christmas and hangs downstairs this time of year.
My mum always cooked a big roast dinner on Christmas Eve. Ever since I left home and even more so now since she’s no longer with us, I do the same. It’s my favourite part of Christmas and makes me feel closer to her. I swear I smelled her Red Door perfume yesterday whilst I was making gravy. I spend all week leading up to Christmas Eve preparing dishes. I’ve included some of my husband’s favourite foods from his memories of Christmas too including Yorkshire puddings and his late Nana’s forcemeat stuffing. This year I’m doing a roast turkey, some years I’ll do a pork loin. Our vegies this year are roasted potatoes, sweet potato, carrots, maple parsnips, cauliflower and brocolli cheese and brussel sprouts with bacon. I’ve made two types of stuffing (pork and plain) and that gravy that took a whole day to make (thanks Jamie Oliver.) For dessert we will enjoy Christmas pudding with brandy custard. You don’t need a large galley to have a Christmas roast feast, you just need to be organised.
On Christmas morning our traditional breakfast consists of mangoes, cherries, bacon and toasted Panettone. (I don’t like Panettone myself, too sweet, so I have a poached egg instead!) For Christmas Day lunch we usually eat seafood in Australia, it’s almost always hot as it’s summer here. This year we are having for starters: little blini pancakes with two toppings – black fish roe and greek yoghurt and pickled herring with greek yoghurt. For our main (or entree if you’re in the USA) I’m making Spaghetti Vongole with chilli and Parmesan cheese. For dessert we are having brandy snaps with sweet cream. There will be loads of leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner so we will eat that for dinner if we’re hungry, but it’s not unusual for us to eat breakfast and then just one main meal only. We’ll probably be eating turkey well into the new year to be honest.
Cocktails Over The Festive Season!
Nick and I love a cocktail so I have bought some cherry brandy to add to the bubbles this year, some ginger cordial for the rum and a Tabasco bloody mary mix. This is spread out over the season, not all in one day, although I am looking forward to doing little else than sipping something pretty on Christmas night.
What kind of gifts for a yachtie?
It’s hard to find presents that suit us really, we don’t need anything! I’ve managed to find something for everyone though that they should enjoy. I’m very aware that this will be our last Christmas at the dock so we’ve gone a bit all out this year. Next year will be different. If you’re looking for great present ideas for cruisers though here are some ideas:
Self inflatable life jacket, a good water proof torch, a good head torch, waterproof phone case, waterproof backpack, music, movies, tools or a voucher to buy their own, travel journal, boat log book, card games, small board games, wet weather gear, raincoats that fold into their own pocket, beach toys, a scooter (yes, even for the adults!) Craft materials, unbreakable glasses, accessories for their thermal cooker/BBQ/pressure cooker, Tilly hat, protractor, hand held compass…. etc! If you’re listening Santa, a WATER MAKER wouldn’t go astray!!!
Each year very special friends of ours in Montana send the girls a beautiful dress to wear as a gift. They are allowed to open this gift when it arrives, usually a few weeks before Christmas. We dress them up in their gorgeous frocks and trot them up the road to see Santa and have their photo taken each time. I’m thinking they might be getting too old to sit on Santa’s knee next year as they did it just to please me this time! The Skipper has enjoyed taking the girls in their frocks to the city each Christmas since we arrived here three years ago, so he could show them the decorations and the beautifully decorated windows at the big stores. We also enjoyed a night out to see the Christmas lights in Davidson, about a 1/2 hour drive from here. One whole street goes absolutely crazy with their lights to our utter delight!
I look forward to watching the news on Christmas Eve where they show the route Santa takes to ensure he makes it to all countries of the world. I always have a cry. So exciting! Another favourite thing to do is listen to my ‘Hillbilly Goats Christmas Album’. It’s a bit of bluegrass fun, makes me feel nostalgic and puts tears in my eyes as I sing loudly and off-key.
As mentioned, we always have a big roast dinner on Christmas Eve, that’s the tradition I carry on from my mum. As a child, we always opened presents on Christmas Eve after our big dinner and we never opened them all at once. We would enjoy watching each person unwrap their gifts and whilst our own children open them on Christmas morning, we do continue to open them one at a time. I just love watching the girls faces when they see that Santa has been on Christmas morning. The girls always leave a little bourbon out for Santa the night before, along with a fruit mince pie, carrots for the reindeer and a letter. He almost always leaves one back. He’s usually a little tardy and leaves foot prints for me to clean up.
My final tradition is one candle burning for my ma on Christmas Eve.
How Do We Spend Christmas Day?
After breakfast we will throw off the lines and head out onto the Pittwater. We usually just go to Towler’s Bay as it’s nice and close but for Christmas we will head much further up, just not sure where until we get there. I don’t like the crowds and the weather is supposed to be fantastic so the anchorages will be heaving with people no doubt. We’re not sure where we’ll end up but it will be beautiful. The Pittwater is stunning in the mornings usually with glassy water, perfect for a swim and to make good use of the stand up paddle board and kayak, and hopefully wear off some of that food!
The girls are planning a Christmas show that they have been working on, We’re usually doubled over with laughter at their antics.
Thinking of You
I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas with your family and friends and enjoy a happy and prosperous new year. Keep watching this blog and my Homeschool Ahoy Facebook page as we have big plans for 2017 and if you’ve hung around this long waiting for us to go cruising you’d hate to miss it right? Watch this space. Things are getting real. I wonder where we’ll be next year? Hopefully, we’ll connect out there somewhere?!
Our best wishes for 2017!
Lyndy and the Homeschool Ahoy Crew.