I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Friday, December 9, 2011


There is a Christmas tradition that has gone on for years in Vancouver. The Carol Ships. Each night in December several large ships leave their berths and head out, all decked out for Christmas into English Bay and beyond, full of passengers dining on turkey with all of the trimmings and then singing carols as the ship cruises by the city skyline where, hopefully, there are lots of Christmas lights to see.

It's something I've always wanted to do. So when a GROUPON for a 2 for 1 passage came up, I asked a good friend - who I just happened to be working with on a show that day, and who just happend to be standing right behind my chair when I got the Groupon notice - if she wanted to go with me and she did. So I bought the tickets. When I went to book the cruise, I saw that the price I had paid was for passage and a free cup of hot chocolate only. If we wanted the full deal meal, it would cost another $53 each. I called and asked her if she wanted to go for it - I did as I thought it would be torture to be able to smell turkey dinner and not be able to eat it - and she agreed. So I upgraded our tickets and then we waited for December 8th to roll around.

Last night we went on the cruise. When I got to the marina, the gates down to the dock were locked. I had to hang over the rail near the ships and wait for someone to come out of one of them and when someone finally did, I called down and asked how to get down there. A very friendly fellow came and unlocked the gates and, as soon as my friend arrived with the printed tickets, we 'went aboard'. The salon was huge and easily seated 100 people. We had paid $5 extra per person for a window seat and were shown our reserved table. The dinner was buffet style and it was pretty good. Not liked a home-cooked turkey dinner - they never are - but it was a lot better than someone had described to me (a leathery bit of turkey and some soggy vegetables was how he put it). The dessert buffet consisted of profiteroles, sliced banana, a chocolate fountain, and a tray of small dessert pastries (if one wanted the dessert option only it was an extra $13 but was included in our buffet price). In my opinion the meal was far overpriced for what was offered, $20 less per upgrade would have been acceptable.

One thing we noted on the cruise out of False Creek through English Bay and then around the perimeter of Stanley Park and into Burrard Inlet; there weren't many Christmas lights up on any of the buildings. Not the commercial ones nor people's apartments in the high-rises. Usually they're a blaze of lights - especially the high-rises. I wondered if it was because of the incandescents having been replaced with LED strings. I personally detest the LED lights and I think I am not alone. My friend thought that very well could be the reason. There were still a few really nice displays - one was a huge deciduous tree that had been draped from top to trunk with hundreds of strands of blue and lavender lights. It was gorgeous. There was also a nice display in a park close to Yale Town, and some of the boats we passed in the marinas were festively decked out which was really nice. There were also a few cranes on the skyline that were really well decorated with loads of lights and a tree at the end and I always love to see that. It gives one a glimpse to another side of all those seemingly hardened and often crude construction guys.

Another thing that happened on the cruise; when it came time for the carol singing we were handed song sheets with lyrics to 29 songs on them. I later noted that out of that number, only 9 were actual 'carols'. The rest were all about santa and the tree etc. etc. We began to work our way through them from #1 but every time we came to a carol about the birth of Jesus, the guy who was leading the singing would skip over it. He started to ask for people to call out numbers they wanted to sing. One woman called out #11. He said, "Ah, number 11, my favourite." He said that for every number that was called out. But then he looked and saw it was 'Oh Holy Night' and he stammered a bit and then said, "Lets sing #18 - Jingle Bells." I was shocked. This was supposed to be carolling after all. After we sang that song, another woman was calling out #24 - Hark the Herald Angels Sing. She called it over and over and he just ignored her. I was not impressed at all. A bit later he wanted people to be more involved but you could sense that the mood had changed a bit in the room, no one was calling out any numbers. He ragged on us for not being more enthusiastic so I called out, "Well maybe you should stop skipping over all of the good ones." I couldn't help it. I was not happy with the guy at all. I don't have anything against the songs about Santa and trees and reindeer, not at all, but some of the old carols are so beautifully written and perfect for my alto voice and I love singing them. But mainly this guy's blatant bias against religion was getting to me - AND after all, why do we even have a Christmas?? Not to mention it's the only the reason this company has any business this time of year!! He completely ignored me and selected another secular song but, after that, he did not ignore people who called out an old carol and we actually got to sing 3 or 4 of them.

All in all, it was a fun evening. I wouldn't do it again but it's part of Christmas in Vancouver and I wanted to have the experience. I am glad I went. Plus, any excuse to be out on the water.
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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