Cruiser’s Thanksgiving

Thursday November 22, 2012

(Photo courtesy of Hideaway)

Let me set the stage for you on how our Thanksgiving morning began.  The sun was out once again and we had let ourselves sleep in until 8:00 where we allowed ourselves to lounge under the warm covers while checking messages on the phone.  Suddenly there was a rap on the hull to take us out of our early morning daydreaming.  Stumbling (literally) out of the v-berth I tried to find pants and jacket to put on while I wondered who on earth could be visiting us this early.  Was it the master of ceremonies for the night trying to get a head count or find out what dish we were bringing to pass?  Just as I was about falling on the floor trying to pull on my skinny jeans from the night before, the only thing accessible to me at the time since we had actually put away all of our laundry right away for once, I just got to the companionway as there was another rap.  Popping my head out there were two cruisers in a powerboat hanging on to our rail.  “How many people you have aboard” one of them asked, confirming the thought in my head that it must be about dinner.  “Two” I replied and as I said that he opened a cooler and pulled out two Dixie cups and set them on our gunnel.  “Two Bloody Mary’s.  Happy Thanksgiving” he nodded and drove off to the next boat.  Alcohol delivered to our boat for us?  Free oysters for dinner one night, and a Thanksgiving turkey the next night?  I could see why this town was so popular for cruisers around the holiday, they really know how to take care of their own.

Here’s a little history of Cruiser’s Thanksgiving and how it came to be, taken from All At Sea.  The tradition began 12 years ago when a small group of cruisers tucked into St. Marys to wait out a nor’easter over Thanksgiving. Local resident and avid sailor Charlie Jacobs knew how difficult it was to prepare even a small turkey breast aboard a boat, and he didn’t want the sailors to miss out on the holiday meal. He asked Riverview Hotel owners Jerry and Gailia Brandon if they would open their lounge for a cruisers’ potluck. With Jacobs cooking a turkey, other townspeople providing food and supplies, and the cruisers bringing the side dishes, a tradition was born. As word spread about the warm hospitality, the event began to grow to numbers no one ever imagined.  We ended up here after hearing about it from Anthyllide although we had originally planned to be much further south at the time.  Since it happened we were not in Florida yet (although St. Mary’s is right on the border and our boat may have been anchored in Florida water) we thought that good friends and a turkey dinner would not be a bad way to spend the day.

With clothes on and Bloody Mary in hand I went to work making my contribution for the day, cornbread muffins.  Not fancy, I know, but we were low on groceries and they go with the season.  In the next few hours I managed to get all my cooking done plus take a nice sink shower and get myself into a dress.  30 minutes before the early afternoon dinner was to begin all of us piled into our dinghies and made our way to shore.  On our way in we saw Hideaway pulling into the anchorage, making it just in time.  As the six of us (Serendipity, Rode Trip, Anthyllide) made our way into the restaurant we could see that most of the tables had been staked out, plastic plates, glasses, and bottles of wine already set out on all but one table in the main part of the restaurant.  Quickly throwing our own plates and glasses at that last table we tried to figure out how we’d sit the six of us at this little round table meant for a max of four people.  When we saw the one next to ours had only two place settings we pulled it together with ours now forcing these strangers to have dinner with us.  Although etiquette among cruisers is usually very relaxed we seemed to be seated near one uppity lady who seemed to be very disgusted by our rearranging of tables.  We didn’t pay any mind though and although I was at the other end of table surrounded by only people I knew, our forced joiners didn’t seem to mind either once they came back and found their new dinner companions.

Once the ok was given the group of 150 cruisers that gathered for dinner made a line around the buffet table.  With this many people trying to grab food at once we thought we’d be smart by waiting for ten minutes before getting in line but even that plan still put us in the line outside and wrapping around the block.  Maybe a dress was a little optimistic for this time of year in Georgia, it was still pretty cold out as I stood there with plate in hand waiting to get back inside.  While waiting though, Hideaway caught up with us and the four of them were able to jump in line right behind us.  Plates full of ham, turkey and a bunch of other delectable sides we went back to our crowded table and somehow managed to squeeze Tasha, Ryan, Grace, and Bill in with us as well.  Plates were on laps and the table was saved for glasses of Black Box wine and the Leinenkugel I had saved in our fridge for a special occasion.  Shutting down the dinner at four o’clock we stayed well past clean-up.  There were too many stories to be told and too much to catch up on that we could have stayed there all night.  When we finally got the hint to leave (Aka, they told us they were going to charge rent for us to stay any longer) we realized we were not ready to end the night and the party must go on.  What does this entail for a group of young cruisers on a major holiday when everything is shut down?  A boat crawl!

Starting out at Rode Trip we piled eight of us (we lost Scott & Kim) into the cabin for the first cocktail of the crawl and a tour for anyone that hadn’t been on it before.  Stories were recounted of good times we had on there and then it was time to move on to Serendipity.  Here a tour didn’t need to be given because the only people that hadn’t been on it yet were Bill and Grace, but with them having a Sabre 36 back in Port Washington there weren’t many differences to show.  What we did show was our defense system against any possible break-ins (we can lock ourselves down in there pretty well) and out came the arm knife where everyone took turns doing their best bad-ass impression of how they would take down a pirate with it.  (Don’t worry mom, it will never need to be used.  It was a gag gift from Matt’s old boss)  Lastly we ended at Hideaway where Kim & Scott joined us once again and I kept forcing the cats on Matt so he could see what great pets they are and how we should get one.  I think I may have talked him into going to a shelter this weekend to look at getting one.  There may have also been a bit of drinking as well but who wants to hear about that, right?

All in all it was an AMAZING Thanksgiving and I’m so glad we made the stop here to enjoy it.  We were surrounded by great friends and in a town that could not have nicer people in it.  We never did the tradition of going around the table to say what we were thankful for, but I think Tasha put it best when she said that because we’re living the lives we do, we’re nothing but thankful everyday and because we all so deeply feel it sometimes it just doesn’t need to be said out loud.

Early morning Bloody Marys.

Ready to feast.

The arm knife is out!

Kitty yearning is going around.

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