The One About Holidays On A Boat

Last week it hit me, Easter was our last first holiday on our boat.

That’s right, we’ve officially celebrated all of the holidays on Light & Salty. Each celebration has been unique and we absolutely love all of the new memories we’ve created. We’ve also been able to incorporate a lot of our traditions, as well.

I’ve gotten so many questions about celebrating holidays on a boat… How did Santa find you? Where did the Easter Bunny hide eggs since you don’t have a yard? Were you able to cook a turkey in your tiny oven?

Rather than just answering, I thought I’d give a little inside peak into our full year of holidays. It’s pretty fun to take a look back on where we were, who we were with, and how we celebrated!

It’s going to be easiest to detail the holidays in the order as we celebrated them on our boat (not to mention, you can get an idea of our route and logistics of how we moved around the Loop.)

4th of July (Lottsburg, VA)

At this point we’d been on the Loop for just over a month. We were facing a lot of questions about the Erie Canal opening. A group of Loopers we’d been traveling with on and off decided to congregate here just off the Potomac River in the Chesapeake. Most of us paid for dockage for the whole month of July and used it as a home base to explore the Chesapeake while we waited on the locks. We celebrated the day with a big cookout with Howaho and Positive Latitude and tons of fireworks.

Labor Day (Mackinac Island, MI)

While it might not be one of the biggest holidays, it was certainly memorable for our family this year. We used the work holiday to visit Mackinac Island as a family. Due to the high water levels and extreme wind, we were not able to take our own boat. Docked across the way in Mackinaw City, we took the ferry to the island for the day. It was cold, but beautiful!

Halloween (Beardstown, IL)

I’ve already written a whole blog post about this holiday. Quite honestly, it was one of the coolest and most memorable days on our Loop. We literally spent the night tied to 5 other boats (Pour Decision, Full Count, Addiction, HappytrailS, and Safe Haven) and and a barge on the Illinois River!

Although the kids all had the option to trick or treat in Beardstown, they opted to celebrate with all of our boat friends. We hosted everyone on Light & Salty. It was quite a party and there was more candy than I’ve ever seen. If you want to read more about our interesting Halloween, check out: The One Where We Spent Halloween on a Barge.

Not Technically a Holiday… Election Night (Ohio River at the Illinois/Kentucky state line)

Since a presidential election only rolls around once every 4 years, I figured this might as well be included in my list of special holidays. We spent the day boating on the Mississippi River- passing the Gateway Arch in St Louis before turning north on the Ohio River. In the dark, we anchored with 2 other boats behind the Olmsted Lock. It was an extremely long day, but I threw together a bunch of snack food and we invited the two other boats, Addiction and Safe Haven, to watch the election coverage on the back of our boat.

Thanksgiving (Demopolis, AL)

At this point we were down to just 2 boats from our original group of 12 boats that left Chicago together. In Columbus, MS we made a menu, divided up the cooking duties, and used the marina car to go buy all the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast. Our fridge had never been so loaded down! Which is why, it was a major problem on Thanksgiving morning- as we were traveling down river- when our generator stopped working. As soon as we got through the lock we ran about 80 miles at top speed down to Demopolis.

We pulled in, and as luck would have it we got docked right next to a Platinum Loop boat (Lower Place) that we’d met a few weeks earlier. Charlie immediately jumped on our boat and diagnosed the problem- a shredded impeller. Unfortunately we didn’t have a spare, and being Thanksgiving Day, all the stores were closed. Charlie asked a few other boaters in the marina and found the part for us. Then he spent hours that afternoon helping Brent fix the problem. (The kids and I went to the pool.)

That night we had a huge Thanksgiving feast with Full Count and The Lower Place. And yes, there was a turkey! We did not do a whole one in our tiny oven. Instead, we opted to air fry 2 bacon wrapped turkey breasts. It was a huge hit so we may never go back to the traditional way.

Christmas (Key West, FL)

After a rather chilly run down the rivers throughout the fall, we set our sights on a very tropical Christmas Holiday. With several other boats, we determined Key West was the place to celebrate. The month of December was spent boating through the Gulf down the West Coast of Florida. We enjoyed all of the Christmas trees and decorations in places like Clearwater, Anna Maria Island and the Everglades.

On December 23rd we crossed 90 miles from Marco Island to Key West. We spent Christmas Eve doing some very traditional activities like baking cookies for santa and attending church (well, watching online.) Instead of eating dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse, we opted to make our own on the boat. Brent did a great job recreating our traditional meal. We just missed having all of our Charlotte friends with us!

Santa was a major concern for Miller. We wrote him a letter this year and explained that he’d need to use AIS (a GPS-like tracking device on our boat) to find us. Thankfully, the sleigh was able to land on our boat roof. In fact, Miller is pretty sure he heard it.

Ultimately, our goal being in Key West was to travel to the Dry Tortugas the week between Christmas and New Years. Unfortunately, the winds just didn’t cooperate. We spent a few days being tourists (and lazy) in Key West before heading back to the mainland of Florida.

New Year’s Eve and Day (Cayo Costa, Florida)

This was our only holiday this year that didn’t work out quite like we planned. As I mentioned, we should have been with our friends Chasing 90, Full Count and Howaho in the Dry Tortugas. Instead we spent a few days on anchor next to Cayo Costa State Park. It turned out to be the most relaxing and wonderful days. We genuinely enjoyed spending the last day of December and the first days of January on the beach!

Valentines Day (Stuart, FL)

This year Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend and so we chose to travel for the holiday. Knowing our buddies on Full Count would be heading back to Michigan, we opted for one last hurrah. We coordinated a weekend in Stuart- they came by boat, and we came by car. It was a sweet, wonderful weekend with lots of wave jumping and laughter. Late in the day on Valentines we headed back to our boat. For the first time ever, we did very little to actually celebrate this holiday; However, we still made the best memories. And we made some funny memories a few weeks later when I found the Valentine’s Day paper plates I’d purchased months earlier. The kids got a kick out of eating off “Happy Valentine’s Day” plates in late March.

St. Patrick’s Day (Fort Myers Beach, FL)

WIthout realizing it was St. Patrick’s Day, we made plans to go to the beach with some friends on a random Wednesday in March. When we finally looked at a calendar, we realized it was St. Patrick’s Day. But there was no better way to spend our holiday than on the beach (are you sensing a theme?) The kids woke up to their traditional Lucky Charms breakfast, and we finished off the day with Corned Beef and Cabbage. But in between those two meals we got very sandy and sunburned!

Easter (Fort Myers, FL)

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Easter was our last first holiday on the boat. I was specifically aware of this because I’d made such a big deal last year of Easter being our last holiday in our house. Thankfully the Easter Bunny came up with the genius idea to hide a small quantity of eggs in the boat for the kids. Each kid was given a different color egg to find since they wake up at very different times these days (Miller: Baseball eggs and Mary Grace: aqua.) Unfortunately, the Easter Bunny forgot to mention how many eggs they would each find. That probably would have been a good detail for the Easter Bunny to include on the note. There are likely a couple eggs that will be discovered one of these days.

We spent the morning watching our church’s Easter service and preparing a few dishes to take to our next door boat neighbor. We had the most special Easter lunch with Ocean Spirit and Have Another Day. And the icing on the cake was when our friends on Chasing 90 docked right next to us on Easter afternoon. We hadn’t been together since August when we went our separate ways on Lake Ontario (although we’d almost been able to meet up to go to the Dry Tortugas…so close and yet so far!) It was truly a perfect Easter and beautiful conclusion to our first year of holidays on the boat.

Oh, and while they’re not major holidays, just in case anyone was wondering, here’s a recap from our birthdays:

Brent (April 23rd in Brunswick, GA): At this point we were in the process of moving onboard and this was our first big celebration. We were under a tornado warning all day and had some pretty severe storms. We made homemade ice cream for the first and last time on our boat (it hadn’t previously occurred to us how much room the big bowl you have to freeze would take up in a boat freezer! We ended up taking our ice cream maker back to storage!)

Mary Grace (August 13th from Atlantic City to New York City): We spent her birthday boating. There was some drama getting her birthday presents to us since we were traveling. We ended up staying in Cape May, NJ an extra day to wait on a package. But the delay actually ended up working out perfectly since it put us in New York Harbor on her birthday evening. We boated through very thick fog much of the day. And had an extremely special birthday dinner with two of our buddy boats on anchor right behind the Statue of Liberty.

Sarah (September 16th in Grand Haven, MI): After some very chilly, rainy days on Lake Michigan, we were thrilled to have gorgeous weather for the week we spent in Grand Haven. I gave the kids the day off school (I mean, I like to think my birthday should be an actual holiday!) and we went to the beach. Brent cooked breakfast and a nice dinner, and we all went out to lunch.

Miller (January 7th in Fort Myers, FL): Our final, first birthday on the boat. Miller had lots of birthday requests. He wanted donuts and pizza. And the day off of school. And to swim in the pool. And a banana split cake. Of course, we made it all happen. His sweet buddy Gus sent the biggest most obnoxious balloon bouquet. And our other friends at the marina helped us celebrate.

In concluding this post, I was going to try to pick a favorite from among all of the special holidays we celebrated this year.

But I don’t think I can do it.

Each one was so very special. Of course, this probably goes without saying, but I will mention it anyway…we definitely missed celebrating each of these holidays with our family. Covid threw the craziest curveball to the year and we did our best to keep everyone safe. That included not traveling to gather with the people we love the most. But we are looking forward to many future holidays with all of our family!

As always, thanks for keeping up with our crazy adventures! We have some exciting news coming up soon that you won’t want to miss! Until then, check out:

The One With The Unexpected Products We Use The Most Living on a Boat

Want To Improve Your Health? TRAVEL!

The One All About Anchoring

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8 Comments

  1. Amber Myers on April 14, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    This sounds like a ton of fun. It has been ages since I’ve been on a boat. I need to get back on one.

    • momwithamap on April 14, 2021 at 7:32 pm

      Holidays are really special to our family so I was very worried when we moved onboard that we’d struggle to stick to some of our traditions. It’s been fun to make new memories though.

  2. Anna Elle Liz on April 14, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Okay, this sounds AMAZING! I love how non-traditional it is and how y’all made new and your own traditions anyway. I bet that it’s such a special memory for you guys.

  3. Jason Braswell on April 14, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    Love this post! ❤️ But my question… What about Memorial Day 🇺🇲? You went from Easter to July 4th. Just curious🤔🤷🏻‍♂️

    • momwithamap on April 25, 2021 at 11:48 am

      Oh wow, great question. I may need to go back and edit the post soon. We did have a special Memorial Day (now I’m mad at myself for forgetting! I think because I went to the date when we started our Great Loop- which was June 1st.) Memorial Day was our last weekend at the marina where we purchased the boat before we took off. We crossed a lot of final little boat projects off that weekend and grilled Brent’s dad’s “secret recipe” chicken for some friends.

  4. Emily Davis on April 15, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    I think having boat parties would be a great way to celebrate. I personally couldn’t do that year round here with how much snow we get but love the idea.

  5. Monica Simpson on April 15, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    What an incredible time for your family!

  6. Nadalie Bardo on April 19, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Boat life looks so fun! I would totally spend my holidays on one if I had. Especially in these times.

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