Saturday, January 22, 2011

Phuket, Thailand - December 25, 2010

We are at anchor in the quiet, protected Nai Harn bay (in the photo) on the west side of Phuket Island, Thailand. There is a very low, long, gentle swell coming in off the Andaman Sea giving the boat the first taste of ocean swell movement in, well, all season. It is the northeast monsoon season here which means that the wind is blowing from the northeast, protecting all the anchorages on the west side of the landmass of SE Asia. The days are sunny and hot now that the monsoon has settled into its pattern. The breeze is often enough to keep us comfortable.

We are anchored among about 50 boats, many of them friends or acquaintances from our travels over the years. We picked this particular bay for Christmas because it was chosen by the group of boats carrying children. And there is nothing better than a bunch of kids around at this time of year. Yes, we miss our family and our own particular children but these surrogates are a great lot of fun too. And what's more I get just what I love to get for Christmas: Christmas Day on the road somewhere!

Yesterday afternoon the parents organized a Secret Santa for all the cruiser kids on the broad, white sand beach at the bottom of the bay. All along this beach there are lounge chairs and umbrellas for shade. There must be hundreds of them lined up in triple rows. Behind the beach there are cafes and restaurants, souvenir shops and many, many massage tables under umbrellas. Yes, I actually have seen massage taking place in some of these establishments.

I had been chosen to be Santa for the festivities and enjoyed playing it up with a Santa hat, a red tee shirt, and a bag stuffed under it to give me more girth. There was much anticipation, excitement, photos, and laughter as I pulled out the presents one at a time for each of the ten or so children sitting in a circle on the sand. There were dolls and Frisbees and transformers and bubble guns and each present was awarded great attention and glee. After all the presents were handed out and my bag was empty all the kids attacked me, thinking that the bag under my shirt had more goodies. They pulled me to the sand and out came the bag. Disappointed, they only found the odds and ends I always bring ashore. The rough and tumble was an unexpected joy for me and plenty reward for my Santa efforts.

As with every Christmas my favorite activity is singing Christmas songs. Every year as I have traveled on the boat I have organized some type of carolling. This year with the help of two boats, Anui and Imagine, both with kids, we dinghied around the anchorage singing our hearts out. There were six adults and five children in two dinghies. We made a lot of noise and had a lot of laughs as we sang song after song to our friends on their boats. Of course we sang "Give us some figgie pudding" at every stop and were treated with wonderful goodies: candy canes, rum balls, mince cookies, and the occasional beer for the guys. The kids got tired just in time because we hardly had returned to the boat and climbed into bed than a rain and lightning squall hit the bay and we all were very happy to be in a warm, dry bed to sleep and dream of sugar plums and all good things.

On this Christmas when we are so far away from our family and friends-- for many of you very nearly on the other side of the world-- we think of each of you in very special ways with love and fondness that transcends the miles and makes our hearts sing glad tidings of joy to you and your kin. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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