When you are cruising long distances for several years, you have the opportunity to experience the traditions of other countries and cultures. When Herm and I first left our home in Connecticut for an open ended trip southward to Florida, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Trinidad to Venezuela, we had an open itinerary. The first leg of our trip took us to Fort Lauderdale where we spent Christmas aboard GRENDEL. By coincidence we ran into long time sailing friends we had not seen in a long while. Together we prepared a feast aboard our boat GRENDEL.
After the holidays we continued our journey southward down the island chain. First to the Bahamas, to Turks and Caicos, to the Dominican Republic, through the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico to Culerbra to the US Virgin Islands where we spent our next Christmas. While vegging out in Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Island, we got to experience their traditions for celebrating the holidays.The year we arrived, the Virgins Islands had suffered an extreme hurricane, Marilyn. There was a lot of damage done to many of the homes and hotels on the islands. However, it did not dampen the Christmas Spirit of the people.
While we were there, we were fortunate enough to be part of a TV commercial celebrating ST. Thomas as a vacation spot. There was a parade throughout the streets of Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands which featured stilt walkers, called Mocha Jumbies, steel bands, and a carnival atmosphere with people throwing handfuls of confetti. My husband and I, along with the rest of the crowd, were given bags of confetti and asked to throw it at the marchers.
The next year we sailed into Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela on our 35th anniversary. What a way to celebrate such a momentous occasion. We spent 7 months in this fascinating country. We learned about this unique and varied country while there and we sharedin their customs. The Christmas holidays came with a flourish. Everywhere we looked, the shops, hotels, streets were regaled in festive holiday dressings, as were was our sailboat, GRENDEL.
Each anchorage, marina, club or resort has their own special facilities. Some are just okay, others are adequate, some are scenic, some are resorts, but a few are spectacular. So it was at Maremares in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. It was a grand hotel for boats, yachts and families who were aboard. We celebrated the New Year 1996 there in grand style. Our daughter flew down from college to help us celebrate the New Year in South America.
This was not a regular column. Instead, I wanted to share this with you so you know that you can celebrate the Holidays onboard your boat anywhere you choose to go.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY NEW YEAR, SAFE SAILING.
Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron.