I saw 3 ships - er, sailboats - Jer Welch
Once upon a Christmas time, there was a lively old elf named Jer, who loved anything having to do with the water and boats, especially sailboats!!! This tall, skinny guy was not your typical elf, though, in stature and many other reasons!! Even the tree in his workshop was decorated with handmade sailboats, birch bark canoes, lighthouses, anything nautical, and it went on this guy’s tree! He had it bad!
You see, Jer loved to collect old boats and turn them into something beautiful, and he took great delight in salvaging forgotten old sailboats and cleaning them up, painting and re-varnishing them, to delight children who also loved boats like he did, at the holiday time of year. What would be better than surprising a child who loved the water and the sun sparking with wind gusts, than to be able to deliver a cool sailboat for their very own? This was Jer’s favorite part of Christmas!
Now, Jer was pretty quiet about all this, even though Old St. Nick himself is a bit of a boat nut, although that fact is not widely know! If Santa truly had his way, he would probably deliver as many gifts as possible by boat, instead of by reindeer driven sleigh!! But, given the time constraints of flying all over the globe on one night, a magical sleigh is probably better suited to the task of toy delivery than a magic sailboat!!
Well, this past year had been a productive one for old elf Jer, and he found himself working on 3 very special sailboats late in the year, getting them ready to surprise some very lucky recipients! He came upon these 3 vessels quite by accident, and was able to turn someone else’s misfortune into a grand opportunity!! Jer had these 3 special boats all lined up in his large boat yard / workshop / barn, out in the back 40 of Santa’s workshop!
The first and smallest of these cast off boats was a lovely little English wood day sailor called a Mirror Dinghy, that Jer had rescued from behind a far off boat shop, where it had been languishing for many years and was in pretty sad shape. He had this cute little sailboat all trimmed out with a new coat of green paint on the hull (very Christmassy, don’t you think?), varnished inside, and jaunty maroon red sails! It looked like the perfect little training boat for the young boy named Tristan in Wales that he knew really wanted a sailboat of his own! What boy could resist a real sailboat like that?
The second boat was an American glass mini-cruising boat, called a Venture 17 that Jer had found marooned and abandoned on Catalina Island, off the California coast, not far from where it was originally made outside of Los Angeles. He assumed someone was attempting a Pacific Ocean passage with this able little cruiser, and had sadly gotten into some trouble and left this small boat to the 4 winds. It was a good thing that Jer had come along when he did to rescue this vessel, which he planned to give to a young teenage girl he knew in San Francisco. This girl, with the beautiful French name of Chloe, loved the sea and her creatures, and longed for a small sailboat of her own to cruise to Angel Island, and the Farollone Islands off the Golden Gate…..this lively little vessel would be just perfect for her!
The last sailboat that Jer was getting ready on a chilly December day, was a very unique boat called a Bolger Folding Schooner. Now this one was probably the most unusual sailboat that Jer had ever seen, and he was having trouble with a few things on it, which was giving the old elf fits! You see, this boat folds in half, like 2 smaller boats which nest one on top the other. This beauty was 31 feet long, and sleek and very fast looking, with 2 masts and old timey looking gaff rigged sails, which all nest together when the boat was folded in two. The problem Jer was having was getting the silly thing unfolded, as all the other elf helpers around the shop were far too small and short to do this safely! Finally a helpful reindeer saw Jer’s plight and helped him out, to finalize the last few things he wanted to do on this boat. This one was going to a new sailing school for kids in Indonesia that Jer had heard about, and would be perfect for these shallow waters and teaching these kids how to sail amidst these beautiful islands!
Jer had painted the schooner a cool, pirate looking jet black, knowing how much kids were into the whole pirate thing, worldwide….Jer was not totally out of touch with what was going on in the world, even though he thought Santa was sometimes terribly out of date!! The last few nights that this nautical elf was working on getting these 3 very cool sailboats ready for a Christmas delivery, Jer could be heard singing his favorite Christmas tune very loudly……” I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,” the silly old elf sang and sang into the wee hours, and was as giddy as any child would be on Christmas morning……he knew the boats he was working on this year would bring much joy and happiness into some special kids’ lives, and that made him very happy indeed!
Finally the day before Christmas, there was a gentle “knock knock” outside Jer’s workshop, and then he heard a strange sound from out in the meadow. He could not believe his eyes, when he opened the door, and there in the winter’s snowy light, stood the most amazing and beautiful sight that Jer had ever seen! Santa had arranged to surprise his favorite elf for all his hard work, with a very special delivery of his own, before the holiday rush really got going! Santa had some connections in Sweden, and had put the word out that he was looking for a lovely old mahogany sailboat called a Folkboat, his favorite elf’s dream sailboat! Jer had always wanted to sail the archipelago off Stockholm, on his off days, when he was not making boats in his own shop, for the children of the world. Here as a special surprise from the boss man himself, was a lovely 25 foot, gleaming oak and mahogany sailboat, all ready to go!
A tear came to his eye, when Jer saw what Santa had done for him, and St. Nick was sitting in the cozy cockpit, with a small Victrola record player playing “ I Saw Three Ships” coming from down in the cabin of this classic sailing beauty! “Fair Winds to you” Jer, and thanks for all your hard work to spread the joy of sailing all over the world!!
May you find peace, joy and love at this holiday time, and all through the year!
Jerry Welch / Akron Ohio USA (boat nut, and crazy old elf!)