For most of my adult life community has been a theme; the one common thread amongst all the other changes that adulthood can bring. I was thirty six years old when Bo and I got married and had spent much of my single 20’s and 30’s surrounded by friends, comrades, community.
Where I lived, what I did, was much less important than who I did it with. I can look back and nearly every single event I remember fondly was less about where it took place, what we were doing, but more about being surrounded (usually on all sides!) by people I loved. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, random hallmark holidays and random Tuesdays all were marked by celebrations with amazing, life-giving, supportive and hilarious friends.
My personal transition to boat life in the summer of 2015 was hard with a capital H. Yes, there were happy hours and pretty blue water and a nice tan, but for the most part it was lonely. I left a city I loved (Atlanta!) and a boisterous community of friends that had become family. Together we had weathered highlights and lowlights of each other’s lives and truly fought for each other. We believed the best, spoke the best, and thought the best of each other and leaving seemed impossible.
At the same time – Bo is the best with a capital B – and I was so looking forward to this unconventional start to our marriage and life aboard Selah. We spend the first few months with me floundering and crying for friends and Bo wondering what in the world he had gotten himself into. 🙂
It has been almost two years (!!!!) since we first boarded this ship and our greatest lesson in sailing has been that it is allllll about the people. Community. Cruisers. Our fondest moments have much less to do with actual sailing or even the boat, but absolutely everything to do with who we are sharing the moment with. We look back on some gorgeous beaches, fabulous snorkels and sometimes our only comment is “wish _____ was here to see this” or “this would have been amazing if ____ was still here”.
Meanwhile we reminisce on some fairly terrible conditions in no-fun anchorages and remember the games upon games upon games, the late night radio check ins and the comradery of having other cruising friends along for the horrendous ride. The people truly make the difference.
Returning this winter to the Virgin Islands has been wonderful for so many reasons – but the highlight (in case you haven’t guessed) has been friends. We have spent the last 4 weeks re-kindling boat friendships from our travels last year, anticipating reunions the with best boat buddies around, and meeting new besties everywhere we go.
Last night was a prime example – we had a happy hour planned with our good friends Cori and Dale whom we met last year in the Bahamas. A morning swim around the anchorage led to a few introductions (nothing like meeting people while looking like a drowned rat) and by happy hour we had met 6 new cruisers that I fully expect will become boat besties. Friendships are formed quickly in an environment as transitional and intense are boating.
Where in land life, it can take weeks (or years) to develop close friends, the very nature of the here-today-gone-tomorrow, cruising lifestyle necessitates relationships that are forged within minutes and may last only days. And while saying goodbye is one of the toughest inevitabilities, it’s equally exciting to enter a new anchorage and unexpectedly find friends you hadn’t seen in years.
We have truly enjoyed the tight-knit boating community and the two degrees of separation that typically binds us all together. It is fun to play the “do you know so-and-so?” game every time we meet someone new. Different than most land-based relationships, boat life friendships are built on shared experiences and it is usually only minutes into meeting someone before you are all piled into one dinghy speeding off to hike a trail, snorkel the shoreline, grab a drink or paddle board into the sunset.