Shops are all open and many people are still shopping for New Year’s Eve dinner.
The menu, however, should be prepared carefully for, on board, there aren’t many pots available and the chef-skipper generally uses the legendary “atomic”, as the pressure cooker is commonly known.
The Hamletic doubt concerns the hour when the boat should sail off in order to gain the right position for the New Year’s Eve toast.
There’s plenty of time and the “food list” can be made quietly: mixed starters, preferably served with some hot bread reheated in the oven which, on the boats devoid of any heating system, can replace the stove when open.
Oven, warm sweaters, “vinazza” and a lot of human warmth cannot be enough and, therefore, a hot soup can help in this case, becoming a powerful fuel if flavoured with chili peppers and pork rinds. The dinner is completed by the inevitable zampone and a ton of lentils which, with their coin-like shape, represent luck and prosperity.
The dinette gets pleasantly warmer while the cabins, conveniently closed, function as useful cold chambers for cheese and fruit. For the “indigenous champagne”, namely that made in Valdobbiadene, the cockpit is the ideal place where to remain waiting for the fateful moment when it will be uncorked.
Two crew members are enough to set sail and steer the boat out of its berth while the others can go on carousing below deck provided that the companionway door remains properly closed in order to preserve the little warm which has been difficulty created inside.
The noise of the engine gets the deck, accompanied by the chats of the diners remained below while the helmsman tries to compensate the annoying cold with the night spectacle offered by city lights and Christmas decorations.
A 10-minute travel is sufficient to go out of the inner breakwater and reach the open sea. Slipping the cable is not necessary since it’s past eleven and, in some minutes, the crew will all climb on board, so it’s everyone’s eyes that will see whether the boat is safe or not.
“Stop that noisy engine, please!” shout the guests with one voice and their din is forgiven only when, in the renewed silence, the boat is suspended in the dark, surrounded by the night fog which, getting right into bones, will certainly make many rheumatologists happy.
” Turn on the radio!”, one shouts while another adds: ” NO VHF, please”. Of course, the first meant the RAI radio where the countdown is going to start. -10, -9…meantime, another firework is gone, -3, -2, -1….woohoo!
Everybody toasts while the gulf seems to have become a battlefield. A light haze makes the buildings’ profile in the distance unclear but this doesn’t matter because the coast is an explosion of fireworks resonating even in the sea area between our boat and the land.
It’s drizzling, it’s bloody cold but everything is really exciting. After having raised a glass with everyone, I silently pour a little of the precious drink on my boat, since she, too, deserves to celebrate the new year. It’s a small rite to have a lucky new year and…
fair wind, always!