How a Dolores sailboat became a must-have Christmas ornament – The Journal


Steve Hill’s exhibit at the corner of Eighth Street and Railroad Avenue has won the Dolores Christmas Light contest in the past with “Santa’s Sailboat”.

A winter sailboat in southwest Colorado? Dolores is on board.

How did a sailboat become such an iconic and beloved Christmas cornerstone in a city nearly 7,000 feet above sea level?

Each year in Dolores, a sailboat glows with an array of colored lights, floating above glowing blue bulbs reminiscent of the swirling sea below.

The boat proudly shines on Eighth Street and Railroad Avenue in Dolores.

“You see it a lot along the coast,” said owner and resident of Dolores, Steve Hill.

Although far from the seashore, the elevation of Montezuma County appeared to be conducive enough to the scenery that Hill could use his boat to spread Christmas cheer in an unconventional – that is, unconventional – way. for southwest Colorado.

“Why not do it here?” ” he was thinking.

Hill bought the boat in 1988 and sailed with his wife, before the ship debuted as a Christmas decoration in 1990.

He bought it from lawyers in Albuquerque.

Under their ownership, the boat had been named Chief Joseph.

Hill changed it to Mental Health.


“Because I felt more sane after sailing for a day,” he said.

Coincidentally, there is another Montezuma County boat of the same name, he said.

There were a few intermittent years when Hill and his wife abandoned ship. They love to travel in January and sometimes failed to light the boat for a holiday exhibit.

During those years, Hill found himself in deep water. It was obvious that the boat was making waves in the community of Dolores.

“If I don’t, I hear about it the rest of the year,” Hill joked.

He landed the boat for a fairly cheap price, he said, although he needed repairs now.

“We seem to have the energy to decorate it but not to navigate it,” he said.

Even if it is “very possible” Mental Health will one day take to the waters, Hill said he also has his eye on another boat – a tri-hull the same size as his sailboat.

Each year the decorations fluctuate slightly.

“I can never do the same thing twice,” he said.

It’s usually everyone on deck, with neighbors and friends offering to help string the boat up with lights starting the week after Thanksgiving.

The embellished ship is usually ready for her metaphorical sail the following weekend.

“It’s such a pleasure for people,” Hill said.


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