When one is a truly avid sailor, the times we're expected to get off the boat is by no coincidence when some of us most want to remain on deck. Whether it's the thrill of braving what few seamen can, or finding a far-off, floating escape from the business of the holiday, whatever the reason a number of boat-owners do like to remain on the water during Christmas. So as our little salute, we've put together this little guide to surviving Christmas on a boat, both physically and mentally. This isn't including hired Christmas party boats or cruises either; just the tug life.
Avoiding Freezing, Festive Weather
Regardless on what you might see on Pinterest or other viral image sites, warm fireplaces are too much of a luxury for most liveaboards. Indeed many homely warming comforts such as radiators or central heating don't really have an equivalent on the water, and whilst Britain is far from Arctic, it can still be brutal. In a great BBC interview from 2012
, offshore yacht racer Alex Thomson described his boat as a "freezing cold, carbon coffin that I call home." Providing you aren't also trying to beat the monohull transatlantic record, you do have some options available to you.
By using a combination of 1400W and 400W electric or oil style heaters in the saloon and one in the companionway, plus a 1300W fan forced air heater next to the engine, you should be able to keep your boat at a consistent temperature. This will not only help you warm up a bit, but will also prevent ice build-up in the engine. You can also insulate your clothes lockers with bubble wrap to keep away moisture, or if you lack lockers you can stuff them inside settee cushions for when they're needed. Lastly there's always old faithfuls like hot water bottles, as well as new options like microwavable heating bags and hand warmers.
Your Christmas Feast doesn't have to be freeze dried & bite-sized
So a full roast dinner on Christmas day may be off the table, but what's the very best you can hope to achieve when miles out from the nearest supermarket? Whilst hot weather demands you use your boat's stove or oven as little as possible, the cold is the greatest time for on-board chefs. Whilst ventilation needs demand that you make food fast in the heat, the cold allows for cooking that takes a bit longer e.g. soups and stews, or even baked bread and cookies.
This means its possible to have a bit of turkey on the big day, it's just all about planning ahead. Is the bird bigger than your oven? Then you'll need to cut it into pieces so it will fit. If you don't have an oven? Use a 'stove top oven' pan. The secret to eating well on a boat during Christmas comes down mostly to managing space, finding utensils with multiple functions and creating innovative solutions that work around the areas in a recipe that require you not to be on board a boat!
Helpful last-minute Christmas boating ideas
Whether you're on the boat with family, friends or in isolation, ensuring spirits are kept high is definitely important on a holiday that focuses on togetherness and time well spent together. If sailing solo, arrange a time and place in which it will be possible to have a Skype conversation with those you miss on land, or make a daily message that you'll be able to send them if you don't always have time to spend away from the wheel. The same definitely goes for pre-bought, pre-wrapped presents that can be saved till the morning of the 25th (if you can resist!). Lastly, it never hurts to through on some battery powered lights, the odd ornament or a bit of festive foliage if you're so inclined.
Do you have any stories, tips or suggestions when it comes to spending Christmas on a boat? Let us know over at the Seachest Facebook page, Twitter and/or Google+.