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So, You Want to Go Cruising? Part One–Decisions

The Twelve Ways of Christmas

For our First Way of Christmas, my True Love and I  … viewed a IC 24 Sailboat Regatta.

Not really a Christmas event, but always held in December, Charlotte Amalie hosted the Carlos Aguilar Match Race for these modified J-24s. EW and I had notice the race on Friday as we were riding the safari bus to run errands and agreed to take a break from boat chores to view the race the next day. That makes it a Christmas Moment. Among the competitors was a young man from Maine, Chris Poole. EW and I had never seen match racing like this, and were delighted that the organizers had erected stadium seating and provided commentary. The boats raced in pairs, first crossing the line in the wrong direction to begin the pre-start, maneuvering for the best starting position by chasing each other in the “playground”, the large area in the bay behind the starting line. They performed 360s, held each other against the wall, and, sailed backwards –  all in an attempt to have the better start. The course was confined to Charlotte Amalie Harbor – outside of the anchorage area, but inside the sea plane landing and take-off zone. Oh my.



























 Above: Luffing, to actually go backwards on purpose. The rules state that they may not hit each other and they may not hit the committee boat. It’s a test of wills and boat handling.

PC080596That sea plane behind these two competitors took off a few minutes later. These two had hugged the wall as far as they could. The lighter boat had the dark one pinned. Legal and good tactics.









Best view from shore that I’ve ever had for a sailboat race. There were up to three pairs racing on the same course. Don’t hit anyone, and beat your one opponent. Judges for each racing pair followed closely in inflatables.








For our Second Way of Christmas, my True Love and I  …  enjoyed the lighted boat parade.

We had attended last year as well. This year, we were anchored off of Water Island, so took the dinghy to Crown Bay and the safari bus to town and back. We met up with fellow cruisers, particularly Jeff and Sandy from S/V Magic Inspiration. We had cocktails followed by ice cream cones,  and then sat on the wall, and watched the boats circle a few times. Afterward, we walked up to the “Miracle on Main Street”, a night when the shops are open late, no cars are allowed, and various bands perform.















 We returned to Tickles at Crown Bay to hear the announcement of the winners for the parade. First place when to the Pump Out Boat with the giant Santa. There’s a joke there somewhere, but I don’t want to come up with it.

Second place went to this pirate ship—in addition to all the lights – they had a scantily clad crew in the rigging. Of course -- Christmas wenches.

In town on Main Street – we enjoyed the music and certain dancers. This lady pictured below right requested a Latin favorite from a popular blues band. She enjoyed it, and had a lot of interesting moves. Her partner was a good sport.







The couple above stunned us. First, they were dressed like 1970 hippies; secondly, they were superb dancers; thirdly, he never looked at her when they were apart, but looked down and off to the side; and finally, when they were together, he hugged her very tightly, with one arm around her neck and his hand in her armpit. He always kissed her forehead when we pulled her close in this tight embrace. I could have watched them all night, but after one song, they joined their friends and disappeared into the crowd.

No celebration in the Caribbean is complete without a steel drum band.


For our Third Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … visited with cruising friends.

This has been a wonderfully social season for us as we’ve met up again with Carl and Carrie, formerly from S/V Sanctuary, now from La Creole, and with Jamie and Keith on S/V Kookaburra. Diana, from S/V One White Tree and I spent an afternoon shopping for stocking stuffers, laughing, and meeting folks along the way. Diana says I can start a conversation with anyone. Doesn’t everyone?. Later that week, along with the crew from S/V Ainulindalë, we had happy hour aboard S/V One White Tree meeting their guests, as well as Kirk and Donna’s daughter and son-in-law. Also during December we had dinner with Lynn and Eric from S/V Amarula, with Phil and and Karel from S/V Tahani Li, and with Peter and LeeAnn from S/V Two Much Fun. And so on and so on!

For our Fourth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I  … – well really just I – Cleaned and Decorated the Boat.



I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to host two events just about 12 hours apart, but it was great fun. First, I cleaned, and then I decorated La Luna. We have a tree on the mast, stockings hung on port lights, and a tree top angel sitting in the corner perched on a conch shell. EW says I can have any Christmas decorations I want, as long as they fit in one plastic shoe box. That works. I even have room for the holiday fabric we use for wrapping the presents. More about that later.

For our Fifth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … hosted Peter, LeeAnn, and our Maine friend Calvin for Christmas Eve.

EW had wanted me to make Chicken Scaparello for Peter and LeeAnn. No pressure for a wasp from Maine to make an Italian meal for an Italian. No pressure at all. LeeAnn made a beautiful chocolate pie, EW made rum drinks, and the evening and meal were each a success. During happy hour, LeeAnn perused one of EW’s favorite cookbooks, Little Italy, by David Ruggerio. The recipe is on page 51.


For our Sixth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … arose at 5:15 on Christmas morning to dinghy in to the Challenge of the Carols.

We had thoroughly enjoyed the event in 2011, although to gain his participation, I had to bribe EW with the promise of bacon. You can read about it in my All at Sea article, published in December of this year. Thanks to the article, we had more cruisers interested in attending and I offered brunch – with bacon –  to those who joined us. Lynn and Eric, Karel and Phil, and Calvin, all rallied in dinghies at quarter to six for the ride into Elephant Bay. Peter and LeeAnn met us a bit later in the morning. It was a much more festive, and well-attended event this year. Locals in the know wore red, but in our group, only Eric and Lynn were appropriately dressed.

























 Calvin seemed to enjoy the morning, but he didn’t like saltfish. He earned his bacon.









 Here’s our crew, Lynn, Philip, EW, Peter, Karel and Calvin sitting on the right. Eric and LeeAnn were both watching their respective dogs, keeping them off to the side – away from loud speakers and the squealing pig.




 Here are some of the many ways to wear red at the Challenge of the Carols:



With Panache. 


 Too Cute for Words



Comfortably.  Eric and Lynn with Chui and Scrumpy.            Walk of Shame Pirate Wench


The music was OK, the crowd was fun to watch and welcoming, and the final performers – the Hapless, Hopeless Carolers were hilarious. This group is known for performing a skit/song, featuring well-know locals who get “roped in”. This year, they acted out a Caribbean folk or urban tale about a policeman stealing a hog. This was performed to Feliz Navidad, with the refrain of, “De police teef me hog.” I’ll never hear the original the same way again.

Incidentally, the two “policemen” had real guns in their holsters, one was a drill and one a staple gun.





For our Seventh Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … hosted brunch with bacon on Christmas morning.

PC251702Peter and LeeAnn had plans for Christmas a deux, but the rest of our morning gang returned to La Luna for brunch, mimosas, screwdrivers, and tequila sunrises. Oh my. We had a ball. We ate very well with the addition of truly good fruit cake from Lynn and Eric, and an excellent fruit platter from Karel and Phil. We were having so much fun, that I had to kick them off the boat at one so we could get ready for Christmas Dinner with Jeff and Barb.












  For our Eighth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … took a nap/ran the generator.

As we were saying our last “Merry Christmas” to the morning gang, Jeff called to let us know he’d pick us up at three. We had plenty of time to get ready, so EW started Jenny, the Honda Generator, took a shower, and then took a nap. I cleaned up a bit, took a shower and proceeded to get beautiful. This included wearing my lovely cotton night dress over my bra and panties, and sporting four large blue Velcro curlers in my hair. TMI, I know, but it sets you up for what comes next. EW was snoring lightly in the aft cabin when Jenny ran out of gas. I can take care of that, started up the companionway, and popped back down into the cabin as I remembered my get-beautiful outfit. I looked in on EW who, though he was sleeping right under the generator, didn’t realize it had stopped. Knowing he was tired, I didn’t want to wake him, so I decided to go for it and popped back up on deck. I immediately to realized that the Kon Tiki, the second ugliest day party boat in St. Thomas, was a few boat lengths to our stern, with a full compliment of tourists on board. I popped back down to see if EW had awakened. No dice. Oh, what the heck! There are probably folks in the Midwest, showing their Caribbean Christmas photos, and laughing at the blond on the deck of her sailboat in night gown and curlers on Christmas afternoon. All I can say to you people, is “I get to live here!” So there.

For our Ninth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … dined, wined, and holidayed at the very well-decorated Chez Hart.












We ate, we drank, we exchanged presents and sea stories with Jeff, Barb Hart the First, and their island friends. Plus we loved on Hunter, sweetest dog on the island. It was a marvelous evening.




Chef Jeff roasted a turkey, barbequed a beef roast, made gravy, stuffing, four pies, mashed potatoes, and other fixings. We ate like kings and queens.







 For our Tenth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … spoke with family and friends back home.

It brought tears to my eyes. I also received a personal video of CC, Marc and Jenn’s baby daughter,smiling and cooing, and being brilliant. We enjoyed many Facebook greetings and photos from family and friends back home, and from cruising friends anchored in other ports. We felt very loved.

For our Eleventh Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … opened our stockings on Boxing Day.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were just too busy. On the 26th, we slept until we were done, cleaned up the boat, had breakfast, and spent time leisurely opening our presents. We don’t buy big gifts, just fill a stocking for each other, wrapping each gift individually – in reusable fabric. A few days before Christmas, EW was locked in the master stateroom, wrapping my presents, when he asked, “Where’s the scotch tape?” I replied that we don’t use tape with fabric wrap. He indignantly informed me that  a lot of the fabric had “globs” of tape on it from last year. “Yes,” I said. “Those are the presents you wrapped.” He did a good job this year. A few presents had one piece of tape to hold the fabric while he tied the knots. He also used all of the red cord we had in the box. My favorite technique is truly unique to EW. One of my presents was a package of color coded Velcro wraps, and he used two of them as ribbons to hold two of my presents together. Smart, cute, and useful – that’s my EW.


For our Twelfth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … walked up the hill to a light and music show.

Water Island residents have a lot of get-together events, including a pot luck on the beach for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. While on a walk on the 27th, I perused the notices on the bulletin board and found out that one family offered a light and music show every evening from the 21st through to the night of Three Kings. EW had worked with Jeff all day, so when I picked him up I told him we were going to join Ross and Diana on Water Island for a short, uphill walk to the show. He was tired, but a swim and dinner revived him and he’s a good sport. The twenty minute production was well worth it, and a fitting end to our holiday celebrations in 2012.





 EW particularly liked the photo at left. He said it reminded him of Disney and magic.

It wasn’t planned – I was just playing with the camera trying to get a photo of the lights. Sometimes that’s when things work out the best.

We planned to go cruising and we are. We couldn’t begin to imagine all of the magical moments we’ve experienced over the past two-plus years.

We wish you and your loved ones wonderful, magical moments in 2013.



 Happy New Year from the  Harts at Sea!


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Darleen najera

Sounds like a great time! Love the sharings and photos of course, BUT the Velcro rollers was my favorite part!! I once left the cruise ship cabin after getting all prettied up for dinner, walked to the elevator surrounded by many others waiting as well, to realize As I looked in the mirror aside the elevator I was wearing my red Velcro roller still in my bangs... Phaaaaa. I know how much you adore the cruise ship tourists Barb so to be safe if I ever get off in a port your in I'll be sure to wear my red roller so you will know it's someone you like. Ha! Happy new year to you both lots of love sent from frigid Maine.

Steve & Deb

Hey Barb & Stu(EW)can you send me the best way to get in touch with you......going to be in St Thomas for a day in Jan and would be great to check in with both of you.

Steve & Deb


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