Thanksgiving, Boater Style

About the only negative of our lifestyle, living on our boat and the freedom to travel wherever we want, is that occasionally we're away from our family on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Such was the case this Thanksgiving. We have been sitting at the dock in Apalachicola, Florida for almost two weeks waiting for the right weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico and the Big Bend region of Florida. We had hoped to be farther along and be able to spend this holiday with family. It was not to be, but just because we aren't able to spend the time with our first family, doesn't mean we can't enjoy the holiday with our boating family. For this Thanksgiving, the traditional dinner turned out to be a rather large gathering.

We have been members of AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association) for some time. The Association is a great resource for anyone planning to do the Great Loop. It's also a great resource to meet some wonderful people. In the fall, most Loopers are heading down the inland river systems from the Great Lakes, across the Florida Panhandle, to the Florida west coast and beyond. To many, crossing the Gulf from the Apalachicola/Carrabelle area to Tarpon Springs or Clearwater can be daunting. The Gulf is famous for very uncomfortable conditions in anything but settled weather in our slow trawlers. From Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs usually means a 22- to 24-hour run, much of it done overnight, arriving in Tarpon Springs in the late morning to avoid getting propellers tangled in the many commercial trap floats. So there's always a certain amount of anxiety.

This fall has not been a particularly favorable one weather-wise for boats doing the crossing. Forget the unseasonable cold; the winds have been howling to gale force, we have had 6 inches of rain the last few days and the 11-foot seas have kept everyone in port. Those coming from the west along the Panhandle are in protected waters until they reach Apalachicola. That's where it gets tricky. So a bottleneck of sorts has formed here and the boats are beginning to fill the few available slips. It was apparent last week that things were not going to change soon and we would all still be here for Thanksgiving. Like all boaters do, plans began to take shape for a traditional Thanksgiving for our boating family. When planning began, it looked like we would have about a dozen crew members from the few boats that had arrived.

By the day before Thanksgiving, the boat numbers had increased to 11 and the dinner guests had increased to 26. Ordinarily we would plan a potluck, someone would cook a turkey, and everyone else would bring a dish to share and their own drinks. A potluck can be held on the beach, any available deck and sometimes marinas provide a room. But the docks here are too small, there were no available rooms, it was too cold for a beach and 26 people was a pretty good crowd. The next best plan eventually took shape. Arrangements were made at one of the local restaurants that would be open and providing Thanksgiving dinner. We all gathered at the restaurant about 1:30 p.m. for drinks, hors d'oeuvres and salads. Dinner was served around 3:30 p.m. and everyone had a good time eating and socializing. The celebration went on until almost 5:00 p.m. when everyone headed back to their boats to prepare for what we all hoped would be the beginning of our crossing the next day. Stay tuned and we'll let you know how that worked out.


  1. Beautiful caring and sharing spirit of AGLCA voyagers and other cruisers. Home and family is where your heart is and whereever you find serendipity "fellow travelers!

    Thank you Chuck and Susan!

    As they would say in the USVI: "HAPPY THANKSGIVING NEXT DAY!

    Alan V. Cecil
    Hampton Roads


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