Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Christmas on the hard

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass,
it's about learning to dance in the rain
 - Vivian Greene

So life doesn’t always go as planned. There have been many things which have caused delays and several things which rightly took priority over work on the boat over the last few weeks. It will get done, but sometimes you just have to do what needs doing and at least we are not going to sink now we’re out of the water.

Feeling festive on the hard

The skipper has been busy getting things ready. After several dodgy moments on the boarding steps and the dog accidentally throwing himself off the back of the boat (20 foot drop, rocks below, he stood up and shook it off!) we now have a much better ladder. It’s nice and stable and firmly attached to the side of the boat. He has also created a working area under the boat using sheeting and plywood to provide shelter meaning that even in wet and windy weather he can work with wood and epoxy which are both quite fussy about the weather. It is colder on the land than on the water because the wind whistles around the hulls cooling us off but we're nice and toasty with our new paraffin heaters (we are aware of the dangers, have carbon monoxide alarms and newer heaters are much safer than their predecessors).

There is major dredging work in the marina at the moment

Although we don’t really get snow down here on the South coast (there is some up on the moors) we’ve had some frosty mornings which make for a very slippery deck. We have a couple of old towels on standby to fling out and make the deck much safer. The dog is upset that he can’t just go and sit out on deck but loves the fact that we are now right next to his favourite beach and he gets to go there far more often. The movement is the strangest thing, we don’t rock with the water but we do shake horribly in strong winds which we've had a lot of in the last few weeks. 

Sea dog posing on the moors

The deckhands are very much ready for Christmas. They have sung and partied and are enjoying the season. It was lovely watching the school nativity and interesting to compare the spectacle created by a group of 90 children with the productions they created in boat school. They are part of a much bigger thing and sharing it in a church with so many more but on the other hand when we were away they planned and wrote it themselves and did lots of research around the story too. Swings and roundabouts, there really are advantages to both types of education. Maybe our boys are particularly fortunate to have experienced both.

Decorations waiting to be put up

Father Christmas will be coming again this year; he seems to manage to find his way onto boats despite us not having a chimney. People often ask me about hiding presents in a smaller space. We always tell the children that if they go looking they won’t have any surprises on Christmas day and so far they haven’t – as far as I know! We use a big airtight box to keep everything together and safe from damp which usually works well. When choosing Christmas presents we have to think about where they are going to go once they’ve been opened too and how practical gifts are for life on board. In the past they have had presents including compasses, binoculars, personal dinghy log books, Opinel knives (with rounded ends for safety), various books about sailing and large amounts of Lego - a great toy for young cruisers.

Every year the marina we are currently in holds a competition for those who want to decorate the boat. With three young deckhands decorating is a popular activity! This year being on the hard means we can have a real tree for the first time in 6 years which has caused much excitement. The youngest doesn’t remember having one before and was thrilled to be able to pick one out. We decided to use the solid ground between the hulls and got the biggest one we could. It has been blown over a couple of times in the stormy weather but we love it! 

We can’t use the front deck at the moment for safety so it has become home to a small reindeer. We also have lights up on the pulpit and a couple of fenders have been decorated as giant baubles. Heading up the mast this year seemed less appealing as the top of the mast is now many, many feet above very solid ground. Inside we have our normal decorations and cards from friends and family which are always lovely to receive.  We have got our wooden advent calendar back this year as work on the saloon means that we have a bit more space for it. As our tree is usually only about 8 inches tall we string our hanging decorations inside the boat from hooks in the ceiling. They are an eclectic mix as we add a new one each year but all of them have a special meaning to us. Then of course there is the house flag which flies above the boat on Christmas Eve with it's important message 'Santa stop here'.

Every family has its own traditions and many, like us, will find that these traditions evolve slowly over the years as families and things change. 

Whatever your own traditions and plans for the Christmas/holiday period we all wish you much happiness and all the best

From the crew of Tarquilla 

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