Our Fifth Christmas at Sea
03 January 2020
Counting this as our fifth Christmas on Uproar puts time in perspective. It has flown by like the miles at sea.
First Christmas was at Elbow Cay, Bahamas. Uproar's draft did not allow us to anchor in Hope Town so we anchored on the south side of the Cay. There was an abandoned resort on shore inhabited by Haitian squatters. We assembled books and toys to bring to their children. They were characteristically shy but appreciative of the gifts. We then dinghied with Nancy Hancock from Moon Dancer into Hope Town. We went from boat to boat offering shots of Lisa's home-made lemoncello. A great way to make new friends. This was followed by lunch at a nice resort and a game of Kubbe on the beach with fellow cruisers.
Second Christmas was anchored in Saint Anne, Martinique. We were invited aboard Emily Morgan as the only Americans joining their British Christmas Eve celebration. Christmas Day was organized by John from Out of Africa, a South African brai (bbq) on the beach. About 50 cruisers attended bringing meat to grill and a dish to pass. Being our first Christmas in the Caribbean, we were introduced to a lot of new friends whose company we would enjoy for another year cruising there.
Third Christmas was in Santa Marta, Colombia. We were tucked into the modern, municipal marina, enduring 30+ knot winds daily. We organized a White Elephant Christmas gift exchange along with the ubiquitous covered dish dinner. This was mostly a new set of cruising friends with only a few we knew from the Caribbean. We braved the strong winds and made a joyous celebration in this new land for Uproar.
Fourth Christmas was in Raiavai, Australs, French Polynesia. The Australs are the southern-most archipelago in French Polynesia. We were nearly on the Tropic of Capricorn. Raiavai is very remote with only a few hundred people populating this beautiful island. Before Christmas, during a visit to the main village, we were pulled into a municipal tent where school children were performing song and dance routines. We were seated at a table and brought a large plate of chicken, beef, fish and vegetables for lunch. It was heart-warming to be with children for Christmas. Christmas day we rode our bikes around the island giving model airplanes and little toys to all the kids we saw. Then we had a quiet Christmas dinner on Off2Sea with Vaughn and Leslie. We were the only two cruising boats in the island lagoon and so appreciated being able to spend a special Christmas together.
This Christmas was in Fakarava, Tuamotus, French Polynesia. We entered the lagoon several days before with Caroline Tyson, visiting us from Milwaukee. The main anchorage contained numerous friends. Emails ahead of time suggested Fakarava as where we should meet for Christmas. Most boats nervously headed for an anchorage near the north pass as stormy weather raging out of the north was predicted. In spite of constant rain, we enjoyed a hearty Christmas Eve on Ocean Blue with Derek and Leslie and other cruisers. Christmas Day was on La Mitsu with Laurie and Sue and cruising friends. The White Elephant gift exchange yielded imaginative and hotly fought over gifts and a lot of fun. Great food and drink made for a joyous afternoon and evening.
The nomadic life of a cruiser has the sad consequence of missing out on special holidays with family at home. Phone calls help but fellow cruisers gather together as close friends and surrogate family for Christmas. We so appreciate this fellowship to help fill the void of not being home. When we returned to Uproar after Christmas on La Mitsu, we realized we were the only Americans at the party. But Christmas celebrations are alike wherever one sailed from.