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Santa Claus sets off in his water-safety sleigh

by Mrs Claus on 24 Dec 2013
Santa getting fitted for his life jacket by a friendly Rescue Service person .. .
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… but down in the South Pole, it was all action stations. At the entrance to Santa’s workshop, the elves were frantically stacking brightly coloured parcels and toys into the sleigh, checking off lists to make sure they hadn’t missed any good children.

Another elf wearing a deep frown was cross-checking a computer printout and occasionally reaching into the sleigh to remove a parcel intended for a child who’d, in the end, not been good at all.

In his cosy cottage, Santa had rested in preparation for the long night’s journey that awaited him, and with Mrs Claus’ help was pulling on his red suit, grumbling softly as he stretched the jacket across his ample middle and vowing for the hundredth year in a row that next year he really would go easy on the mince pies.

Through the failing daylight, the reindeer could be seen dancing and prancing and stamping their heels with impatience to be off and away. A few flakes of snow drifted past the window and reminded Santa that he mustn’t rely entirely for safe navigation on Rudoph’s red nose so bright … he’d been caught out before in a sudden and unexpected snowstorm. Instead, Santa stashed his personal locator beacon deep in his pocket and then checked that his cellphone was tucked inside a ziplocked waterproof bag, just in case the sleigh splashed down alongside any yachts tied up at anchor or precariously perched on the water’s edge. He mused about how these days it wasn’t always possible to land on people’s roofs, and lots of folk didn’t have chimneys anymore, especially at holiday homes or caravans and tents, so landings surprisingly often needed to be on water rather than land.

Santa looked next at the MetService marine weather – to check out the forecasts, tides, severe weather warnings, rain radar and isobar map imagery .

He then switched to his new Marine Mate mobile app, (free to download, thank goodness), to refresh his memory about local information such as speed limits, mooring zones, and towing requirements for the myriad lakes and beaches he would traverse on his marathon journey.

As the skipper of his sleigh, Santa knew it was his responsibility to ensure not only the safe arrival of the presents he was delivering, but the safety of his reindeer and himself as well.

He slipped one of the new lightweight inflatable lifejackets over his head, helped by a friendly Rescue Service person, and checked that he also had one of the right size for each of his reindeer.

There were extra lifejackets on board the sleigh – but these were colourfully wrapped gifts for children, such a useful and affordable present.

He checked and rechecked his gear, pulled on his boots, kissed Mrs Claus roundly and reminded her about the notes he’d left detailing his intended route and the time he planned to return to the South Pole.

And Santa reassured her that he’d resist the temptation to drink any of the bottles of beer and nips of port left out for him, and wait until he was safely home to raise a glass.

Maritime New Zealand wishes you and your families a safe and happy Christmas.
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