No man is an island and no family can live on a boat completely independently, even if they think they can.
I am an introvert and I can only handle so much visiting, chatting and conversing with people, especially people I have just met, before I feel overwhelmed, tired and I usually get a headache to tell you the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being with my family and friends, I like having coffee with my sister, mother in law and sister-in-laws, and I always have a great time at family dinners, but by the end of the visit or evening, I am ready to go home to my quiet house and be left alone for a while.
Richard on the other hand is an extrovert, almost to the extreme and he thrives on meeting new people, talking and learning their stories. He loses track of time on a regular basis and has been called home on the radio by his exasperated wife wondering where he is and when he will be returning. He meets people at the dinghy dock and then looks up their boat later, he dinghies past someone and then stops to chat and he feels energized and refreshed by all the interaction.
So we have to strike some kind of a compromise, otherwise he wouldn’t be home on the boat all day, he would be off finding new acquaintances and making new friends. I have had to learn to step out of my comfort zone, get off the boat and meet new people. And to be honest, I have not regretted a moment of that. I have found that cruising is 50% of the country, sights and living aboard a sailboat and 50% people that you meet.
We have met some lovely Bahamian people who are cheerful, kind and always greet you with a smile and a good morning or good afternoon, but we have made more connections and friendships with other cruisers that I will remember more than anything else. It seems like we have been in the right place, at the right time on more than one occasion to meet and befriend people that have become very special to us and I know the hand of God is working in all that.
It all started in Key Largo. It was our first foray into real motoring and sailing. We had our first overnight passage and then we ended up in Key Largo for two weeks waiting for some parts for Viatori. We were assigned a slip in the canal marina, which apparently is unusual, as that spot had not been used in years. We ended up right in front of another Canadian boat and met Joy, Dean and their little dog, Cosmo. They were kind, generous and like surrogate grandparents to our boys. Richard and I even had a date night as Joy and Dean took the boys, fed them supper and watched a movie with them on their boat. Boy, did we need that!
In Bimini, after our terrible Gulf Stream crossing, we ran into a couple of Canadian sailboats who helped us navigate around Bimini, showed us the laundry facilities, the best grocery stores and one of the boats had a nine year old girl on board named Abby who became an instant playmate for the boys. These boats were waiting for a weather window and so a day later, they left, but it was good to meet them.
Shortly after we arrived in the Exumas, we met a bunch of other cruisers who became fast friends, Bob and Teresa from Spunky, Wayne and Gaye on Celebration, Bill and Phyllis from Oh My, and Steve and Trisa on Family Business. These were boats that we continued to run into at different locations and on seperate occasions, like Shamballa, another kid boat we only saw twice. Some acted like grandparents and quickly loved our boys as if they were are own. Celebration even had James and Matthew over for two sleepovers, watching movies and making breakfast for them in the mornings. The boys were thrilled! Others were a wealth of information and help, like Phyllis and her sewing machine or a sounding board for travel ideas and destinations and others are just great company that you continue to see in town, have lunch together or just ask how things are going.
Here in Georgetown, we have said good bye to some boats, like Celebration, who are continuing north through the Bahamas with Family Business. Oh My left just the other day as Bill and Phyllis are returning to North Carolina to reconnect with their own grandbabies. And I think we will be saying farewell to Spunky in the next couple of days, but just as we say good bye to some, we have met two new boats, Taia and Horizon. Both of these boats have kids aboard so we instantly have that in common. We are all homeschooling and enjoying and sometimes enduring the challenges of living on board with little ones. It turns out both of the families are from Argentina, but one family actually lived in Edmonton for several years and then moved to Owen Sound of all places which is where all of my extended family is from! What are the odds? Anyways, there is much Spanish being spoken and as our next stop is Cuba, we are hoping some of it will rub off on us. I think we may have to study our translation books a little more though.
We have been so fortunate and blessed to meet the people we have met, for us to have truly connected with them and for them to have really loved and accepted all of us and to just have travel company. This cruising lifestyle really is about the people that you meet.