I find it hard to explain my relationships with other cruisers to my land lubber friends – do other cruisers have this problem too? One type of relationship does not demean the other in any way, but they are uniquely different.
With other cruisers you have a shared way of life, comparable highs and lows, and similar problems and solutions to those problems (be it mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc…). You are thrust together into a situation where you know the other is transient and will move on and you may or may not see them again for months or years. Yet, you instinctively find yourself bonding and relying on other cruisers rather quickly.
In the small sailing community of Bonaire (there are 42 moorings), Matt and I have had to good fortune to meet, assist, benefit from, and enjoy many new cruiser friendships. It is a community, where like so many other cruising communities, where you rely on others to help you. And I just wanted to share a few examples of cruisers helping cruisers:
- Cindy, Jane, and Rose walk me daily (yes, I need to be walked to keep my joints from barking and having a regular walking group motivates us all).
- On one of our walks I mentioned our Splendide washer/dryer issue and Cindy on Tranquility mentioned she has had the same problem with her machine and might have spare parts. Their machine has given up and they generously gifted us with multiple spare parts enabling us to repair our machine without having to ship parts from the U.S.
- About a week later, the fridge/freezer compressor decided to take a hiatus on Cindy’s boat, so we stored frozen tuna, salmon, steak and shrimp in our freezer until their compressor arrived – it was a challenge not to cook up some of that amazing fish!
- Jane has had some engine issues right when she needed to move into the marina to do rigging work. Cindy, Lee, Matt, and I used our dinghies as propulsion (a whopping 3 km/hour) to get them to the marina and Dan and Rose assisted with docking – everything went smoothly!
- Moorings are far and few between this year with so many boats here from the hurricane ravaged islands and Bonaire’s 50th regatta anniversary, so when one boat moves another is on it immediately. Some moorings are temporary and you cannot be on them during the regatta, other moorings are better for smaller or shorter boats, and yet other spots have better moorings (concrete blocks vs. sand screws). So, we pre-arranged a mooring swap: when Cheetah II went into the marina, Sugar Shack took their mooring and Badger’s Set took our mooring.
- Wifi is a hot commodity on a boat and we are constantly shuffling to see where we can get the best signal. Matt helped Ad Astra with some cables and connectors until they were set up and then worked with them to diagnosis and repair their wash down pump, engine, and compressor.
- Ad Astra has generously taken Matt and I out on several dive excursions, filled our tanks, taught us tricks and tips for better diving, loaned us equipment and oh so much more!
- Matt lent his muscles to Mara who is replacing their main sail and needed assistance removing their old sail since it is big and bulky.
- Pay it Forward: Matt is always one of the first people in the water when a dinghy is in trouble offering a tow. You never know when you will need one yourself.
- Earlier this year, Matt and I had taken our dinghy to shore (St. Barth’s) to go on a big hike and the tide came up sweeping Sweet N Low into the sea. Many other boaters rushed to our aid (unbeknownst to us) to retrieve her and place her safely back on shore. Pay it forward.
- Bonaire did not have a forum where other cruisers could communicate (no morning net or Facebook page), so I created a Bonaire Cruisers Facebook group for information sharing.
- Matt and I met our friends Exit Strategy (Rose and Dan) and Jane at a dive site called “Cliff” but someone was already on that mooring, so we took another mooring that was fairly close. Typically you are not supposed to tie two boats up to one mooring, but our dinghies are small so we thought why not. We assembled our gear, jumped in and began our dive. When Jane came up, she noticed that the dinghies were missing, WTF? Some locals shouted that they were drifting away so she flagged a dive boat that picked Matt up so that they could retrieve the dinghies. Luckily they had two huge engines and were able to get them before they made it to Venezuela – they had drifted several miles before Matt retrieved them.
This is all in addition to the shared recipe’s (thank you Exit Strategy and Noel’s Delight), tips for cleaning, cooking, baking, and sewing. Life on a boat is so much easier with the feedback and guidance of others.
If it is not one thing it’s another as things break on a boat and parts are not always easy to come by on a remote island. Having other cruisers to rely on makes it so much easier.