With the anchor up at 6 am on Thanksgiving morning, we were back on our typically rushed schedule to cover 35 statute miles by a deadline: the 1:00 pm cruisers’ potluck Thanksgiving dinner in St. Marys, Georgia.
Luckily, the day’s journey wasn’t nearly as brutal on the ICW as the previous day’s trip on the ocean. The sun was out, there were dolphins swimming around the boat, the cats started looking happy again (even Celia made a rare venture out on deck), and we managed to eke into The St. Marys River at 12:45 pm with potatoes boiling on the stove and about 40 anchored boats in view.
As the story goes, St. Marys’ Thanksgiving potluck tradition began 12 years ago when a group of cruisers pulled into the river to wait out a nor’easter. When they started looking for ways to celebrate Thanksgiving together, a local sailor named Charlie Jacobs offered to cook up a turkey for the cruisers, and the owners of the Riverview Hotel offered up their restaurant lounge so everyone could gather there.
And ever since, this tradition has continued, still hosted by the Riverview Hotel and its owners Jerry and Galia Brandon, bringing hundreds of cruisers from nearby and afar together each year to celebrate.
For us, Thanksgiving was made particularly special not only because we got to meet so many cruisers in one place, but because we got to meet up with so many cruising couples our age, with whom we stretched the restaurant’s patience by staying long after clean-up, gabbing away about our experiences and our plans. And then, deciding we weren’t quite done with each others’ company, we created an impromptu, moving after-party that involved boat-hopping in our dinghies from shore to Rode Trip to Serendipity to Hideaway. In the process, we managed to empty all three boats’ liquor stashes, pick up Scott and Kim from Anthyllyde, convince Matt on Serendipity they should adopt a cat, make macaroni-and-cheese for 10 people and discover that our wee little Catalina 34 is actually a lot roomier than it looks.
And, funnily enough, at no point in the evening did anyone acknowledge that it was Thanksgiving or attempt to announce what they were thankful for on this day.
Maybe the holiday itself wasn’t important to note, or maybe, like me, those around me didn’t feel the need to remind themselves out loud what they had to be thankful for.
On this particular Thanksgiving Day, we were living life as though we were nothing but thankful for every day we had. And it seemed as though we were all so obviously grateful to be together at that time, in that place, and at this time in our lives.
Perhaps “thanks” just didn’t need to be said. It was simply felt very deeply.