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Christmas in the Picton Castle

By Chelsea McBroom

Anchored at small Roberton Island in the Bay of Islands, where Endeavour anchored and Cook went ashore, our Secret Picton Castle Christmas Committee set up a schedule in advance for Christmas Day.

The crew was able to sleep in for a couple hours before brunch. The majority of the crew had stayed up late the night before to watch a screening of the movie “Elf” on the hatch. Brunch was a feast of eggs, bacon (which seems to be a favourite on the ship, so much so that people who don’t have to get up yet want to be woken up for it), fresh bread and fruit.

Amy, Hannah, Beamy (Amy B) and Denise all took turns in the galley baking their own version of holiday cookies as Charlie Brown or Ella Fitzgerald Christmas music played. The Monomoy was launched and prepared for sailing by stepping the mast and rigging the boom and bending on the mainsail and headsail. The weather was warmer than some North American (better than -40!) or European crew were used to and cooler than what the New Zealanders or Australians experienced during the holidays.

Though it would rain off and on during the day, the crew found ways to occupy themselves – working on ditty bags or reading – and when the rain stopped the Mate lead a team (Pania, Peter, Nils, Chelsea, Gustav, Teis, Mark and Alex) sailing on the monomoy around the nearby island and over to our friend Jim’s where the boat was docked and the group sat along the beach by the bird sanctuary.

When the Monomoy group returned the Christmas Committee had set up a monkey piñata over the hatch. The crew gathered around to watch and cheer while people took turns in pairs being blind folded, each wrapping their hands around the same stick before they were spun around and allowed to swing. Everyone who tried made a hit, but it wasn’t until Meg and Lian stepped up to the hatch (and given a much bigger tool of destruction) that it finally broke open – a candy and confetti explosion. This was quickly cleared up before the crew put on their nicest clean clothes for dinner.

The salon in the tween decks was ringed around with Chrsitmas lights and the tables groaning with amzing dishes. We had Christmas music playing endlessly. One couldn’t miss the small decorated tree atop the aft salon table floating above a hill of wrapped gifts on the way down to eat. The crew of 24 cozily sat around two tables to enjoy stuffed potato skins, roast chicken and bacon wrapped green beans.

When plates were cleared it was time to open gifts. By tradition, the two youngest crew, Lian and Vai, distributed all the gifts, grinning with excitement. There were unexpected surprises for everyone – all found themselves comforted by the friends and ship family around them. You could say it was the best Christmas away from home that a person could have!

Check out the video of the crew opening their Christmas presents in the cozy main salon here.

Christmas 2013 dinner and tree in the main salon

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