Our first year cruising, we flew home for two weeks to celebrate the holidays with our families. The next year, we didn’t make it back for the holidays, we substituted “Christmas In July” at the lake house. Christmas In July was a hit and we had a fabulous time – we even had a Christmas tree! But when the following July rolled around, our family had redistributed itself from Atlanta to Mattoon to San Diego and trying to get everyone together even for Christmas in July was impossible. That year’s Christmas was different, but very special all the same…
Sapodilla Lagoon, Belize, Christmas
This was our 2nd year cruising and the first year we’d stayed aboard rather than flying back to spend Christmas with our families. We were cruising Belize, the weather forecast was nasty, a bad norther (cold front) forecast to come roaring through on Christmas day. We opted to sail up to Sapodilla Lagoon, a mainland lagoon surrounded with mangroves, no landing spot for boats with dogs. Sapodilla Lagoon is not typical Belize cruising, no clear water, no colorful fishies, no civilization, no little streets to wander, literally nothing except mangroves, a little mangrove island in the middle situated under the shadow of Mt Victoria towering majestically over the lagoon (well, majestically for Belize, these mountains aren’t rock mountain majesty, but purple and beautiful, they can be!).
We provisioned for Christmas and sailed up to the lagoon, dropping the hook early mid-day and spending the rest of the day exploring the little creeks via kayaks and dinghy. We had two anchors out, set for the worst. The lagoon is totally surrounded and totally protected from weather, so while we were feeling safe from weather, there were no other boats. No other boats isn’t necessarily a bad thing for us. We enjoy having anchorages totally to ourselves.
Just before sunset, just as we had finished our cockpit showers, another mast came into view outside. Then the mast ground to a halt — it’s not easy to get into Sapodilla Lagoon and we watched, debating if we should drop the dinghy back in the water and find out if the boat needed help. Soon enough it was underway on it’s own and creeping into our own private lagoon for the holiday. Ugh. Visitors. sv Attitude was a very pretty boat (I’m a sucker for dark hulls) and before long we dinghied over to say hello and Merry Christmas. They promptly invited us to Christmas Dinner the next day.
Turns out, Neil is a gourmet chef and enjoys cooking for Christmas. Normally like us, they would be back home and Neil would be preparing that fabulous dinner for all their family. But this year, they opted to stay on the boat rather than returning. According to Kathy, it isn’t fun to fix the fabulous food just for two, so we happened to be the beneficiaries. The cruising family is truly amazing.
Christmas morning dawned overcast and ominous, but it didn’t hurt our spirits to have our little Christmas celebration down below. Normally we try not to do Christmas presents just for the sake of doing Christmas presents. But since we just spent several days in Placencia, we both took some time strolling down the world’s smallest main street (it’s literally just a sidewalk) lined with local art boutiques (?) mixed in with a grade school, an occasional beach bar/restaurant, tourist cabins for rent and a fish market. We bought each other Belizean art/craft Christmas presents that we still enjoy to this day.
Later to get off the boat, we decided to explore the mangrove channels in our kayaks despite the weather. Kathy joined us – they only have one kayak, so Neil stayed home. We paddled so deep into the mangroves that we had to break down our poles and use the short half paddle as a canoe paddle to get through the parts where the mangroves arched completely over the channel. We didn’t discover much new or exciting, but Kathy had a bit of excitement when a mangrove crab fell (or jumped?) down her swimsuit top.
Returning to the boat, we broke out the Iridium Satellite Phone and called home to talk to friends and family.
Later we joined Neil and Kathy for dinner and the cameraderie that cruisers always seem to share. Despite not having met them before, we had a wonderful time telling old stories and sharing a delicious meal.