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Christmas at Sea

By: Ieuan Dolby | Jul 30 2003 | 1064 words | 1752 hits

Ships do not stop for X-mass. They do not stop for Easter or for Thanksgiving or any other national holiday. Ships do not stop at all unless the company says so and especially not for the crew of a ship to enjoy themselves. It would be very nice if they did! It would be excellent if shipsÂÂcrew could just switch off the engines, lock the doors and go home for the weekend, returning the next day to open up and sail away once again. Sadly though the ship is usually doing one of two things, sailing across a large expanse of water or in Port discharging/loading cargo and neither of these actions allow for shutting down and going home for the day or weekend. Most seafarers would like to have Christmas and New Year at home if they can. Some like summer so that they can have a long summer holiday with their children but overall the majority of persons at sea prefer to have X-mass at home with the family.

Many fortunate seafarers carefully arrange their trip schedules through bribery, promises and working longer trips in the summer, to be off during the Christmas period. Their holiday away from work will lie over the Festive Season and thus they will not be required to return to work until well into January. The unfortunate ones, who have been cornered or coerced and those that prefer to be away at sea during Christmas find themselves stuck in a floating steel can with a bunch of other bodies who either don't want to be there or hate the very thought of Christmas itself.

Most ships do celebrate after a fashion and with what they have to hand. Larger ships by and large do have a stock of tinsel and a tree stuffed away in some locker or other and smaller ships tend to have the same except less of it! Basically, X-mass and the spirit and style that is associated with it largely depends on whether the ship is in port or at sea! If the ship is in port less emphasis is placed on decorating the vessel and having a ÂÂfalseÂÂ time and greater input is made into getting off the ship and up to the nearest bar that opens before eleven am. Regardless of which country the ship is in there is usually a bar and a place to eat within walking distance from the vessel. The worst places to find somewhere though is in a town that shuts down over the X-Mass period, the best are those that donÂÂt celebrate X-Mass as all will be open and functioning as per normal!

Yes, at sea all is normal, in port all just want to get off the ship and up the road, usually for a large and extravagant meal and a few bottles of beer to start the proceedings off with.

If by pure chance the vessel is at sea then effort is made to celebrate X-mass in style. The cook will go overboard (not literally) to produce the most wonderful of spreads and may have spent the last weeks or two thinking and starting the preparations for such. He, out of everybody probably enjoys himself the most. Other aspects of a X-mass at sea will involve the hanging of the decorations and this usually falls to either a Cadet or the Third Mate for no apparent reason. That is unless you have a Captain who has nothing better to do than to hang decorations up, shorts out the electric lights and spends the next hours explaining to the Engineer how to fix them!

So, we have a wonderful spread, decorations hanging up andÂKÂK..the hatÂÂs. For some inane reason somebody always seems to have a load of paper hats, found at the bottom of a drawer whilst they where cleaning their cabin or sent by the Company in the hamper that may or may not be of value. Yes, the hamper! Some companies send hampers, the good ones that is! In this hamper there maybe anything from liver pate to Plum Juice but all of which is greatly appreciated by the ships staff. The extra bits that are included like the paper hats are not really required and liked by most! Anyway, there are some hats and an over eager Captain wearing one, so everybody feels obliged to make fun of each other as they place these paper monstrosities on their heads and to spend the rest of the day walking around in them.

On modern ships everybody manages to make it X-mass lunch for most of the time. Except for the Cook who is busy dishing up the next course and scratching his head as to where he put the Marzipan (which of course has long since disappeared into the Second Engineers stomach). The Engine Room will go unmanned as per normal and only one Navigator will remain on the bridge, they changing over so that all Navigators get a good chance to wear a silly paper hat. At lunch wine is served and everybody gorges themselves on what the cook has prepared, talk a lot and get drunk slowly.

Yes, A glass of wine, a paper hat and some good food! That is X-mass at Sea!

A lot depends on the Crew and how they react with each other. Getting together and making the most of the worst is the best way to pass and enjoy the day. And considering the Captain and his hat he is attempting (and manages to do so) to draw everybody together. The worst possible scenario would be for everybody to ignore the fact that it was a special day and to either continue working or to remain in their cabins asleep. However silly the Old Man, with a paper hat falling around his whiskered face looks, he is bringing together a bunch of people who would rather be at home with their families. Good Old Captains!

Whether at Sea or in Port it is important that all Seafarers make the most of a situation. Thus the Vessels that have a X-mass Hamper sent out to them, those who wear paper hats and have flashing X-mass tree lights on the tree are typically a happy ship. If of course the Engineer has managed to find enough spare bulbs to replace the ones that managed to explode when the Captain was fiddling around with his screwdriver!

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    Christmas at Sea

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