Christmas in the Caribbean

Christmas Island

Christmas Island is not only a real island but a state of mind. Hope you find yours

This is Christmas Island in the United States Virgin Islands. If you look closely, you’ll see the pine trees decorated with Christmas balls.

It’s my kind of island, a place where you can have Christmas every day of the year while basking in the warm tropical sun. Santa Claus should be so lucky.

Once in a while, you see a pirate ship laying at anchor. Nobody pays it any mind perhaps because residents and guests there are pirates at heart.

It’s surprising this isn’t the only Christmas Island in the world. There’s a Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, 220 miles south of Java.

It’s called Christmas Island because it was named by Captain William Mynors on Christmas Day 1643. It’s a territory of Australia, though I don’t think any country should have a monopoly on any island honoring Christmas.

Moreover, I think everyone should have their own Christmas Island where they can be free of the worries and turmoil that seems to be everywhere in the world today.

Albert Einstein once said, “How I wish somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of good will.” That’s my wish for you.

In this coming year I hope you find your own island to retreat to when life presses down on you. Maybe it’s as close as your own backyard or a quiet corner of your home.

Wherever you voyage this holiday season, I wish you the merriest of Christmases and smooth sailing into the New Year.

                                            Bill Hegerich

                                              The Uncommon Mariner


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It’s Christmas even in the Caribbean

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Ever wonder if pirates in the Caribbean bothered to take time out from their busy schedule of pillaging, plundering, and wenching to celebrate Christmas?

It was no doubt the perfect time for pirates to return to the Caribbean after a year of plundering from Charleston to Boston. Once cold weather set in, it was the custom of some to head for warmer waters.

Blackbeard is a good example. Except it seems he made two fatal mistakes. One, he partied it up in North Carolina in November instead of heading to the warm waters of the Caribbean where Reggae bands, fancy rum drinks, and hot wenches waited. His second mistake was that he aggravated the living hell out of Governor Spotswood of Virginia so much so that the governor sent Captain Maynard in search of him and put an end to his fiendish ways.

Maynard didn’t have to look too far. Maynard met up with Blackbeard just before Thanksgiving in Oracoke, North Carolina. After a delicate game of cat and mouse, the curtain descended on Blackbeard with a dramatic flourish. Had he sought out a warmer clime, Blackbeard might have lived to see Christmas and another New Year.

One of the benefits of taking a few days to celebrate Christmas was the opportunity to clean your ship. We’re not talking about the excellent job housekeepers at resorts from South Carolina’s Grand Strand to Key West perform. Wooden ships are infamous for being on the menu of the toredo worm. A family of these hungry creatures can turn the hull of any wooden ship into Swiss cheese, rye bread and pastrami not needed.

The only way to combat them is to take the ship out of the water and scrape the barnacles and worms down to the hull. The process is called careening. Considering their size and bulk, putting ships in dry dock wasn’t an option, but the endless array of sandy beaches and shallow water bays in the Caribbean made that unnecessary.

Careening involved leaning the ship on its side, doing the necessary scraping, then leaning it on its other side and repeating the process. And all this while hoping the rum didn’t kick in too much with your crew and that pirate hunters would not discover you.

I admit it may sound like more work than fun, but how much fun is it for Santa to work his buns off making toys, doing recon work spying on boys and girls- and that’s not to mention the naughty  wenches he’s got to keep an eye on. Well, okay, that part might bring a smile to his face, but how much fun is it to ride all over the world in one night, and then for a reward be stuck in your long johns the rest of the winter?

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