Saturday, 16 April 2016

We're still not alone...

After 5 months with only each other to play with, the girls were elated to finally have
other children to play with over the winter at the marina.
When we started out on this adventure we wrote about the support our friends and family provided leading up to our departure.   We thought that it was only appropriate to write a bit about the people we’ve met over the past 10 months but we haven’t really known where to start.  We can write about the amazing people we’ve met and friendships that have been born but how can we explain the incredible sense of community that exists among sailors?  I’m not sure we can articulate why it’s so striking for us.  What could be so different about the community we’ve found out here than that we had at home?  How can we possibly explain if we don’t understand ourselves?

It’s not like it was unexpected.  If you ask any long-term cruisers what the lifestyle is like you will hear about the sense of community among voyaging sailors.  We were told that cruisers can be expected to lend a hand and advice without the expectation of repayment and that friendships are fast formed as winds and tides will pull you apart as quickly as you meet.  We were advised that the strength of community is one of the greatest benefits and safety nets available to sailors.  It turns out all of this is true, but it can also be true about friendships and communities that exist outside of cruising.  

So why is this so different?

Community at the speed of light.  For some reason, bonds form quickly when you’re out cruising, much more quickly than back home.  I’m not sure if it’s because we know that one party or another may be moving on soon, or if it has to do with the intensity of the shared experience of sailing a small boat across large waters.  Whether it was a couple vacationing from Bellingham in Poros who in the space of a week charmed our kids at a parade and shared coffees and dinner or the tidal wave of hellos and welcoming smiles we received when we reached our wintering spot in Finike, we have seen how quickly friends are made.  Where else do you meet people one morning, within minutes have dinner invitations for the next night and end up sharing breakfast the next morning all without knowing their full names?

A couple we met from Delta, BC while we were in Poros.  It is amazing how a quick hello
turns into a couple hours of visiting over coffee.

No shirt, no shoes, no problem.  As most boaters can attest, the boating lifestyle is somewhat bereft of formalities, at least when it comes to social events.  In the past we would arrange to get together with friends weeks in advance in order to accommodate busy schedules, give time to tidy and prepare a meal to share.  With the transition to living on a boat and settling into one place for the winter we found there were many days where neighbors would pop by to say hi and leave hours later after sharing a coffee, lunch or helping out with boat chores.  One particularly memorable evening resulted when I arrived back at the boat with a fresh crate of beer while several of our neighbours were chatting on the dock.  8 hours later, after drinking all of the beer (and ½ of the crate someone else brought), eating all of the food we had on the boat, hastily feeding the kids chicken nuggets and ordering pizza for the crowd, we were saying goodnight to the last couple and grinning like fools at the fun of an impromptu party.

A problem shared is a problem halved.  As a firm believer in the adage that if you want something done you need to do it yourself, and the corollary that it’s easier to do a job on your own than explain in detail what you expect of a helper, I had a hard time with adapting to a cruising community.  Sailors are not just willing to help, they’re eager.  So eager in fact that there were a couple of instances where my help got working on a job before I was ready – a fortunate event since it forced me to deal with some things I was prepared to ignore.  Now, we’ve become used to the idea that if you ask for help from one friend, you’ll get assistance from at least 3 with offers of help from another 3, and unsolicited opinions from another 6.  Sailors are unfailingly selfless with their time, strong backs and expertise – a fact that has come in handy over the past several months.

This is only three of the six guys who showed up to help us drop the rudders.

Our amazing neighbour, Joan, who spent hours baking with the girls!

Sandra, who has infinite patience to teach Ella to knit. 

So why does this feel so different than any other community we’ve been a part of?  We’re still not sure.  Perhaps the community of travelling sailors is actually closer owing to a shared understanding of the challenges in keeping a small boat afloat and the hardships of being far from home in new and unfamiliar lands.  Perhaps it’s us that is different, we have time now to appreciate the community we’re a part of.  Time to meet our neighbours, time to partake in an impromptu coffee over a cup of borrowed sugar and time to offer and accept help from friends without consideration of coordinated schedules.  More likely it is a combination of these, and perhaps a bit of something else – the magic that comes from being out here and free of some of the more restrictive aspects of life ashore. 

Whatever it is, we are grateful for it.



  1. I love this post. I'm not surprised but I don't have an answer. I have no idea what it is like being a sailer but I have been a camper and a solo traveler and can remember similar experiences--without the intensity of being a small boat on big water. I am so happy for you that you are experiencing this magical, mystical phenomena called community. Love you y'all! Give your mom a hug for me.

    1. More and more I think it is about having and taking the time necessary to really appreciate the moments we have with others. I can't help but think of the Leave it to Beaver days when borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbour was normal and you actually knew and connected with those in your neighbourhood (at least on TV). :)

  2. I enjoyed this post, perhaps because it addresses what would be one of my concerns if I were cruising, i.e. Lack of connection or community. I'm glad that you are finding community, and I would attribute it to who you are, as you are delightfully open to meeting and getting to know new people in your life. Cheers to your journey, Neal and Kim

  3. Love you, guys!! Looking forward to see you soon, and sail with you for a while:)