This Christmas we decided to deviate from our family Christmas tradition just a bit. Instead of the traditional “northern” style Christmas family get together served with Turkey and dressing we decided to take a Christmas boat excursion on the waterways of our home area around Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The six of us: Jo my wife; Noel and Frank, daughter and spouse; JP and Jacky, son and spouse; me and Captain Chip the skipper and tour guide, set out on an eight-hour tour of the Venice of North America in the morning of Christmas Day 2013. We started out with Chip gently backing our hired boat from its home slip into the busy inter-coastal waterway. We headed south toward the main cruise ship docks where some of the largest cruise ships in the world are normally moored.
Since this day is one of the busiest cruise holidays of the year all the cruise ships were underway somewhere in the South Atlantic, or Caribbean Sea sailing people to exciting and exotic locations all over the warm southern hemisphere. Today the berths were all empty and you could see sky where once “city sized” cruise ships docked displacing a lot of water. Today, only one commercial container ship could be seen being piloted through the inlet out into the open waters of the blue Atlantic ocean.
JP, our son, spent quality time texting Christmas greetings and photos to frozen northern friends and family from the comfortable 75 degree temperatures of our fine open small sailing vessel.
Along the route we saw hundreds of stately homes like the one below. This house would be a wonderful place to live full-time but most of these expensive and unique houses are occupied only a month or two a year while the inhabitants escape the bitter cold weather of their northern lair.
Half way through our trip we stopped to rest and enjoy Christmas lunch. Jo, Frank, JP and Jacky, and Noel, the one tidying up the boat, are preparing to take a short land break. Captain Chris, left, is preparing to aid a safe disembark.
We enjoyed our informal Christmas lunch at a Riverside restaurant. That was a totally different Christmas meal. Some brought their own food for dietary reasons, some of us had fish or burger platters along with various cool refreshments, we weren’t driving.
It was very nice to relax by the water and enjoy a different Christmas celebration this year, it was a wonderfully warm and perfectly comfortable day. One main element of Christmas is about family being together. While most families only spend a few minutes to a couple of hours together on Christmas day, we got to spend 8 hours together, what a special treat.
After lunch we encountered some spectacular water birds along the New River, the river that runs through Fort Lauderdale connecting many of the canals. I captured these photos along the New River just before the I-95 underpass.
This first shot is a true Christmas card shot of a yellow-crowned night heron as it peeked out from behind the bright red holly berries.
Next is a sub-adult Night Heron hiding in the bushes is peering at us as Chip, our skipper, carefully positioned our craft so I could photograph the usually hidden wildlife.
Out of the blue an Osprey dives to the water and picks up a fish.
Further down we found great Cypress trees reaching out of the water like big fingers stretching from the water…
Exotic air plants adorn the trees like Christmas bows
Along with some beautiful wildlife there are big beautiful homes, lots of them
Outrageous large yachts, 100s of them this time of the year
Super downtown views from the river…
Finally, an outstanding sunset along the river along with a cool breeze and family fellowship capped off a wonderful and perfectly unique Christmas day on the water.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my family and readers. May God bless you richly in 2014 as you navigate the river of life.
Please remember to take time to stop and enjoy the scenery, feel the breeze, and take pleasure in your family and the friends God has given you.