Away for the Holidays

5 December 2011 By Lucie Ferrer

The holidays often are a time for gathering with family and friends, but it’s also when yacht owners want to be on their boats, meaning crew will be working. Here’s how to help crewmembers cope if they’re feeling a bit blue this Christmas.

Adjusting to life on board a yacht with a group of people you barely know isn’t always easy. But some times are tougher than others and the festive holiday season can be particularly hard on those prone to feelings of homesickness — even seasoned yachties can feel the sting of holiday blues. Being away from partners, friends and family this time of year can seem like too much of a sacrifice. It’s easy to let your mind wander to what you’re missing and to begin to feel sorry for yourself, but there are many ways in which we can help to keep each other’s morale up.

Decorating the crew areas, having a party if the schedule allows — or at the very least, a glass of wine together, if it doesn’t — and sharing in each others’ holiday traditions are all good ways of lifting the spirits. Turn on holiday music, play fun party games and have a good meal together — if possible embracing elements from the various cultures represented in your crew.

One crewmember swears by a group Skype session with various groups of people she misses. You can still have Christmas drinks with the girls if you like, albeit over the Internet! With video calling, it’s the next best thing to having them all pop round to your cabin with a bottle — and a lot less crowded. Another went a step further and had a sit-down meal at the dinner table with the family via his laptop. It’s always nice to feel that whilst you’re out of sight, you aren’t out of mind, and you still are able to be part of the action. There’s a lot of fun to be had with a little imagination and a splash of technology.

There are, of course, those who choose denial as their coping strategy, and if that is their want then fair enough. Not everybody wants to be reminded that they’re missing out on a family celebration and that somewhere, a long way away, the people they care about are enjoying some quality time together. Don’t impose your values on other people — whatever their reason might be, not everyone enjoys this time of year. If someone is having a tough time of it and prefers to retreat and pretend the holidays aren’t happening, then that’s their prerogative. It’s kind to try and cheer someone up, but force-feeding someone festive spirit can be counterproductive if they’d prefer just to bury their head in the sand until it’s all over.

Equally, if you’re feeling all Scrooge-like, do those who are in the spirit a favor and have your “humbug” fest in private. Misery loves company, but there’s really no justification for bringing everyone else down with you.

Everyone is different, and there are as many ways of coping with homesickness, but it’s worth remembering that wherever we come from or which holidays we celebrate (if any), when it comes down to it we’re all in the same boat — no pun intended.