For many yacht crews around the world, the Christmas period is much looked forward to, as it means a cherished couple of weeks back home with family and friends.
But not all of us have managed to negotiate our contracts to include this holiday, and indeed, some crews won’t be looking forward to the extra workload that this time of the year might bring for them as they welcome their owners, charter guests and respective families aboard for a magical Christmas afloat.
On the bright side, Christmas and the New Year onboard can still be great fun, even if you are away from loved ones, and what better excuse to get creative and throw some great parties? As well as presents and bubbly and mistletoe, there's nothing like fairy lights and sparkle to bring out the festive team spirit!
Walking the pontoons of the world’s greatest marinas at this time of year is about as romantic as you can get. Boats can be seen festooned with twinkling lights, and the unmistakeable shape of lavishly decorated Christmas trees can be spotted through portholes all along the boardwalks. Chefs will be stocking the galley with turkeys and all the ingredients to make smoked salmon champagne breakfasts and Christmas pudding delights. Stewards will be decorating the boat, and deckhands will lend a hand rigging sparkling lights aloft.
And I’m not just talking about a string of fairy lights up the mast and a pretty tree in the saloon. Take a look at these fantastic efforts!
Many superyacht owners take Christmas as an important opportunity to show off their creativity and bottomless resources by decadently decorating their yachts.
America in particular takes the festive dressing of boats to the extreme. Both Annapolis, Maryland and Naples, Florida, have Christmas Boat Parades, where yachts are lit up with masses of sparkling lights and seasonal shapes whilst sailing back and forth to an excitable crowd. It’s a wonderful sight to behold – there is nothing more awe-inspiring than one of many big wooden yachts slowly motoring up a busy harbour in the middle of the night, with a full rig of sails created out of multi-coloured rope lights.
As yacht crew, that’s one of the important things to get right: how does your owner want her boat decorated? Are they a multi-coloured rope light kind of person, or more of a warm white fairy light type? It’s got to be the subtle approach for me, but each to their own.
And it’s not just the yachts that get involved. Not to be outdone by their customers, marinas and boatyards around the world are also entering into the Christmas spirit of things as we speak.
I was chatting to the owner of a boatyard here in the UK just the other day. He was telling me that last year, the local newspaper featured what was purported to be the City’s highest Christmas tree, on the top of an office block in the centre of town. The boatyard owner promptly got in touch with the newspaper editor and let them know that the highest Christmas tree was actually right at the top of the boatyard’s very own boat crane, complete with flashing lights and an illuminated star. The newspaper came down to the yard the next day and printed a corrected version of the story!
So if you’re one of the lucky ones going home for Christmas, have a great time and enjoy the novel sensation of firm ground under your feet. If you’re duty bound for a little while longer, take some enjoyment from those festive preparations, and make sure your yacht glows the brightest in the dock. (And keep an eye on the local paper…)