This is about boat life. Boat life is different than land life in many ways and one of the major one is Visitors. I am not referring to visitors who stay aboard for a few days or even a week or two. They are like house guests and are certainly welcome aboard Kalunamoo. We may share a rather small space with them but, like most house guests, fit in to whatever routines we all enjoy. At these times, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our life aboard, the benefits, the freedoms, the adventures and even some of the difficulties. They bring a new dimension to our life and generally don’t result in mutiny or anyone forced to “walk the plank” overboard. They either admire this or depart questioning our sanity.
The other Visitors that I refer to are those who become, what land people would call, neighbors. They are those also on boats, that arrive in the same anchorage, that become Visitors again. I say again because we may have crossed paths with them previously. This could have been days, weeks, months or years ago. Unlike a stationary house on land where a neighbor change is infrequent, a change of a visiting boat happens frequently. Some may only be Visitors for a few days, some for much longer periods. Of course, living on a boat is fluid (pun intended). Not only do we have the capability to welcome new Visitors, both known and unknown, but we can change Visitors quite easily ourselves by moving on.
The interesting part of these changing Visitors is that many are fleeting cruisers. What I mean to say is that some of these boaters – cruisers if you will – “visit” much like visitors staying on our boat. They arrive here part time to enjoy the life-style and take advantage of all the pleasures that can be found here. No problem with that. In fact, it is enjoyable to spend time with people who enjoy being here. And since they have their own boat, we don’t need to worry about mutinies. Some will spend the season and then sail to their land homes and perhaps return the next. Some will venture on to other islands and some will sail around the world (maybe even for multiple times). We may see them again, or only hear about them through the Coconut Telegraph (the informal sailor’s word of mouth relay– boat by boat). Each brings a new perspective of what it means to be here and on a boat.
All of this is actually one of the main cruising activities – the social encounters; not only with other cruisers, of course, but with the local population. The longer you cruise, the more it becomes a natural way of life. And that “natural way of life” can be discerned in long term cruising and full time living aboard people. One of the identifying features is the ambition to keep moving, or not. Yes, cruising is, by definition, movement. Newly minted cruisers have an inordinate desire to move on. A few years ago, we met a couple who not only just bought their first cruising boat and seemed to be island hoping every week or so, but were headed for the Panama Canal and then, in short order, across the pacific. Well yes, life is short, and you shouldn’t delay your dreams if you have the opportunity. But on the other hand, nobody gets into heaven any easier because you loged more miles (earlier perhaps). In the end, we all go at our own pace, which for us is pretty slow, at this point. None of this is irreversible and living on land can become an acquired adaption for many former cruisers (CLOGs -Cruisers Living on the Ground).
Certainly, seeing new places and experiences is a major impetus to cruise. We like to see new places as well. But seeing old and new Visitors satisfies a part of this. The world is a big place but even in small places, there is plenty of detail that goes unnoticed. And that takes me full circle back to my comments on Visitors.
Since November, we have been keeping company with many cruisers in the Salty Dawg Rally. The pandemic travel restrictions does limit island hoping but meeting the many new cruisers with the rally was fun. After an extended stay in Antigua, we made it to Guadeloupe and then Martinique and were pleased to find long term cruisers we haven’t seen in years. Martinique seems to be a focal point at this time of the year. Even though we haven’t been here in two years, conversation resumed as if we just saw them the night before.
One of the things we have missed, in the last two years is what John on Out of Africa always organized was a braais. This is basically a backyard BBQ for neighbors. It is a BYOFB (Bring your own food and beverage – or some say F**k’n Beer). In others words, something to throw on the barbie and a dish to share. In any case, the “backyard” is the nearest beach that a grill can be mounted on some rock and some wood gathered to set a fire.
John, just back on his boat after some time in South Africa, does this on Thursdays at the Anse Tonnair beach, not far from St. Anne. Drive over with your “car” as there is plenty of free parking.
Since France is still in a State of Emergency large gatherings with food on the beach are not allowed. I should say a word about how the French seem to view rules and regulations. Unlike the Italians, where rules and regulations are treated like suggestions, the French are sincere in their laws. But they tend to trust people to follow them. People are shocked, SHOCKED, that no one checks to see if they are following the laws! Well, there is no problem with the braai as we were actually off the beach and kept our social distance, mostly. Other cruisers, both new and old showed up and as they say, “a good time was had by all”.
Our time in Martinique will be short as we need to get down to St. Lucia next week and a short visit to New York. Our cruiser friends in St. Lucia have already anticipated our arrival as we make plans (and get covid tested again!) to visit another neighborhood.