Another fabulous Pete Bernard Drone Photo, featuring none other than the beautiful S/V Sonrisa and her sidekick Grin - This photo won honors with the Sail South East Facebook Group, and shall be rotated into the group’s Facebook banner! Way to go, Pete and Jen!)
The morning of New Year’s Eve, we sip our coffee and watch the sun rise to warm the colorful town back to its shade of rainbow. At seven thirty, we are plucked from Sonrisa’s decks for a long tail tour of the Mangrove rivers. Now, this is an experience of its own. The Thai long-tail is a large open bowed boat made of teak wood. A giant diesel tractor engine is mounted wide open at the back of the boat, and the propeller spins at the long end of a metal shaft. The boat captain stands, feet planted next to that wildly loud, spinning engine, holding a tiller in his hand and twisting the entire apparatus in order to turn the boat. It must be heavy, and it must be dangerous. But, this is how they do it here. So, we climb aboard and are pleasantly surprised to find comfortable benches under the shade and wooden slats that serve for a coffee mug holder. We add Steely’s crew to the group, then our driver revs the engine. We take off like a shot with all 200 horsepower whirring and popping, water slinging skyward, glistening as droplets in the sun.
We see ancient drawings on cliff walls, fly around narrow river curves, and putter through thick mangroves. We swing through a cave, then back out again to race back to our sailboats – all in under two hours. (Before Grin can wake up and notice we are gone!) Hearts pounding, we declared the ride to be well worth our last morning of 2018.
Next, we up anchor to head over to another area where our other Christmas-Pals Donazita are planning to join us. We sail through a patch of local fishermen netting giant pink jellyfish, pulling them aboard their little canoes to marinate in a brine then chop up and put into salads and other vegetable mixtures with sesame oil, seaweed, shredded carrots, and cabbage. As we sail to our New Year’s Eve Anchorage, Sonrisa sails through flocks of them, pushing them right or left of her bow and they slip on by.
Once anchored, we all set to work. The Oddgodfrey New Year’s Eve tradition requires “Make It To Midnight Irish Coffees,” the cracking of some crab, and lemon meringue pie. MORE MINI PIES! And for some reason I feel compelled to add spiced pecans to the list this year. (We have so many delicious island spices!) Our plan is to have the coffees and snacks on the beach (won’t spiced pecans be delicious with coffee?) then all convene on Steel Sapphire for New Year’s Eve.
As luck has it, a fisherman stops by with a bowl of fresh, wiggling shrimp and one small crab. This isn’t the Alaskan King Crab we celebrate with home, but it will have to do. We cook him up, then supplement with a can of crab we make into a cream cheese dip with lemon zest, paprika, red chili powder, garlic, cilantro, and green onions. We top the dip with the fresh crab, and feel quite satisfied with this crab-crack symbolic representation.
And, since I have always been right about the Mini-Pies, we find our Lemon Meringue turn out better than ever in their own individual cups.
And so, around five p.m. I’m scrambling to finish those pecans I insist will go well with coffee, and Sonrisa’s Galley looks like the tornado blew through because we aren’t hosting so we don’t care how big of a mess we make, I suppose.
I wrap up the pecans, hand mugs of coffee overboard, and grab the giant Chinese Incense Stick we plan to burn for luck. Why not? We motor over to a beach and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Donazita adds a blackberry liquor mixed with white wine to the pre-dinner cocktails and we have a lovely time until it looks like a squall might blow through. Then, we decide we had all better go close the boat hatches.
Dinner starts in earnest aboard Steel Sapphire with what once again turns to a ten-course affair. (This is the benefit of buddy-boating with fellow foodies!) We enjoy crab dip with carrots, home made pork pate by Donazita, a french pizza-like dish with garlic, crème fraiche layered beneath a light layer of mozzarella. (SO DELICIOUS) Steel Sapphire’s Crew made duck red curry with rice, and for desert the Lemon Meringue Pie(s). Champagne or Gin and Tonics flowed easily all night and by mid-night we were all ready to ring in the New Year by sky writing 2019 with the Incense Stick and popping Champagne to the sky. A great one for the books!
Welcome 2019! I can hardly believe you are here already.