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The night before Christmas...A Nautical Poem

Updated on December 10, 2012

This short story is to explain the inspiration for my poem about The Night before Christmas.

Late in October 1985, I was a deckhand on a 96’ utility boat called the Kristy G, working in the Gulf of Mexico.
We were about 100 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana, when we got the warning that a tropical wave was developing and was on its way. We needed to evacuate.

The Kristy G was standing by to assist in evacuating the workers from an oil-rig platform located in East Cameron, block # 299. The developing tropical wave soon turned into Hurricane Juan.
The oil company that owned the platform was using helicopters for the evacuation and they simply waited too long to evacuate the men on the platform. Resulting in seventy good men being left behind.

The storm and the high seas caused dangerous conditions and we were unable to load the rest of the personnel from the platform onto the Kristy G. After much consideration, we chose to stand by the platform and we tied the Kristy G to a nearby buoy close to the platform.

By the third or fourth day (I can’t remember which) of standing by in the hurricane, I began writing this poem about Christmas.

Oh, the riverboat in the picture is not the Kristy G. I believe it's the Delta Queen.

The night before Christmas

’Twas the night before Christmas

All’s quiet on the boat.

It's sitting in the water like a castle in a moat.

It was dusk when we moored at the dock.

Now it is midnight, I can see the town’s clock.

I came on watch at eight, relieving the cook.

I had every intention of reading a book.

I had just marked my page, so I could make the rounds.

When all of a sudden I hear these terrible sounds.

There was a BOOM! And a CRACK! Then a BANG! And a CLANK!

I thought the generator had just broken its crank!

I made a dash toward the engine room; I stopped dead in my tracks!

When up popped a head through the hatch by the stacks!

He pulled himself up with precarious form.

This fat little man in a strange uniform.

It was dirty, and red, and spotted with grease.

It looked like red long johns, trimmed in white fleece.

He snapped a salute, gave his heels a click.

How could I have known that this was St. Nick?!

He reached through the hatch, pulled out a dirty red sack.

Then he marched right past me, with that sack on his back.

He went to the crew’s quarters. He leaped in with a bound!

He spread slickers and boots, without making a sound.

Then off to the galley, which is under the bridge.

He put on some coffee, and then raided the fridge.

He poured himself a cup, ate a leftover T-bone.

He left the cook a set of chef's knives, and a new sharpening stone.

Then he went to the Captain, and this is no hype.

He gave our good Captain a fine meerschaum pipe.

He went to the bridge. Then he climbed up on top.

He started climbing the mast! I couldn't get him to stop!

He climbed to the top. Then he reached for the sky.

He clapped his hands once. I heard a jingling in the sky!

He tipped his hat to me, and then jumped in his sleigh.

With a muffled command, he was up, and away!

Christmas is for children. That's what they say.

But I know God...and Santa. Both work in strange ways.

Getting a little rough

A normal day at work.
A normal day at work.

After the storm

This should probably be in a joke section, but it relates more to bieng on a boat during bad weather.

You know it’s getting rough when…

Your boiled eggs come out of the shell scrambled.

You know it’s getting rough when…

Your salad tosses its self.

You know it’s getting rough when…

You unconsciously start humming the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.

You know it’s getting rough when…

You see a flock of Gulls flying backwards.

You know it’s getting rough when…

You have 2ft seas in the toilet.

You know it’s getting rough when…

You look through the boats windshield & see fish looking back.

You know it’s getting rough when…

You have to sit to take a shower.

You know it’s getting rough when…

You unconsciously start humming “The Ballad of the Edmond Fitzgerald.”

You know it’s getting rough when…

You need a seat belt on the toilet.


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    • ttagpine profile image

      George S McChristian 8 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      Hi Gus; Thanks for the kickback.

      Hurricane Juan was a real trip. At its peak, we had about thirty foot + seas. We ate a lot of sandwiches that week. We tried to cook. The stove had a framework designed to keep the pots from moving but the food wouldn't stay in the pots. Fortunately G. boats are very seaworthy & came out of the storm relatively unscathed.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 8 years ago from USA

      Hi Ttagpine -

      Man alive ! Snuggled up to a buoy in a hurricane. Shoot - it was bad enough here in Houston when Ike visited. Best thing that happened with Ike was two weeks or so later two electric company guys brought in from the northeast showed up in my back yard to get a big oak tree off of my downed electric line - and they did great with it. Turned out they were from Patchogue, New York (midway of Long Island) where I spent lots of time at my cousins' place on the Great South Bay. One of the guys lived right around the corner from my cousins. Had a great deal of fun there in the summertime - crabbing, clam digging, and surf fishing in the Atlantic while staying at their cabin across the Great South Bay on Fire Island. You could spend a whole day over there and never see a stranger. Then the state built a bridge over to Fire Island. I understand that today you can't walk on the sand there without stepping on someone's belly.

      Smooth sailing, ttagpine! Keep away from Hurricanes !

      Gus :-)))

    • ttagpine profile image

      George S McChristian 8 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      1. Roger the one SaltySailor.

      2. International Offshore Services. They are not hiring Captains right now. I don't know about D/H or engineers.

    • profile image

      SaltySailor 8 years ago


      Which company do you work for? You guys hiring deck or engine? Deckeneers maybe?

      That was a great poem.


    • profile image

      SaltySailor 8 years ago

      I'll see you on the one whistle, cap!