My most memorable Christmas was in the summer of 2010 when anchored off of a small island on the east coast of New Zealand. We had decided to spend the week before the new year with several other live-aboards in a sheltered bay – away from it all. So we hauled anchor and our fleet of families sailed for the island. The British and French boats had already settled in for the night so we rafted up to them forming a four boat long raft, which we could climb across with ease.
Christmas chaos ensued, which we had been determined to leave on shore. Tinsel was strung up the mast and staysails and makeshift Christmas lights were strung along handrails. We had a strange mix of traditions – the French children assured us the holiday wasn’t complete without a twelve course dessert (something we were all for!), while the British had prepared by stocking up on Yorkshire pudding and the Americans had enough garish Christmas calendars to last all of us for months.
It didn’t take long for the adults onboard to realise having eleven children playing pirates and swinging off the rigging wasn’t practical. All minors were sent to land on the island, something that at the time seemed like mutiny. Determined to continue with the Christmas spirit, we built a beach snowman. This convinced the French children, who had never heard of such a thing, of our insanity. We assured them it was a tradition and tried to conduct ourselves with dignity as we poked two sticks into the tragic-looking pile of sand.
Our Christmas dinner itself was a strange but brilliant affair, we had twenty people perched on different parts of the boats, from spinnakers to dodgers, all wearing paper hats and covered in sand. Someone had just remarked how strange it would look to anyone who passed when that very thing happened. What that wedding party, gawking from their catamaran, would have seen, was one of the most ludicrous and entertaining holidays I’ve ever had.
By Xanthe Smith, 16