Comradeship amongst smokers
When I was younger, I was convinced that being a smoker had benefits aside from the well-known chemical high. I haven’t officially smoked for years and I think it’s been over 3 years now since I’ve had a social smoke but I miss a particular aspect of smoking. I miss the friendships there were created or deepened while hanging out around the smoke pit.
It seems that us humans need something in common, to hook onto, before we initiate a conversation followed by a friendship. Smoking was one of those things. No matter who you were, you could huddle in the cold outside a door or in the old days, join fellow smokers in a smoking section and feel a bond. Perhaps it’s because you often needed a light so asking for a favor got the conversation started? Sometimes the bond lasted a few minutes and other times it was the beginning of a new relationship.
Comradeship amongst Harley Bike riders
I felt the same when I joined my friend, Lionel, on a Harley bike tour across the island of Cyprus. There were people from all over the world grouped together – some were young, several in their working years and others were retired. There were people from Cyprus, Greece, American, France, Italy and Israel. Overall there were 35+ people riding Harleys that all had a common interest and thus a common bond.
Perhaps that’s why it’s suggested that when you move to a new neighborhood that you join a gym or find a hobby. By doing so, you can create ways to strike up new friendships.
But what’s comradeship amongst sailors like?
Now that we’ve lived aboard our boat for over 5 months, I’ve witnessed over and over again, a bond that exists with sailors and makes my heart smile. Instead of saying, ‘hey can I bum a light,’ it’s usually, ‘hey – nice boat,’ or in our case, ‘Hey – can you please help us out?’ and then the conversation begins.
As an aside, I keep telling my daughter that people, in general, are kind, giving and are eager to help others out in a time of need. In contrast to my upbringing where my mom told me to never talk to strangers and to fear the world, I want my daughter to know about dangers but not to her detriment. As I witness the friendship amongst sailors I know my daughter is learning that the world is full of great people everywhere we go.
In the sailing community the almost instant comradeship couldn’t be more pronounced
Of course there are times you enter a bay and someone yells at you to drop your anchor further away or there are people you wave to and they don’t wave back, but overall 99.9% of sailors I’ve come across have been incredibly kind, welcoming and very helpful. Let me give you a recent example…
How Lily and Richard helped prevent our boat from smashing to a thousand pieces
Just last week, we sailed from Bali to Rethymno, Crete. It was quite rough but we were able to sail rather than motor into the wind. After several hours, we entered the commercial port of Rethymno to pass through into the “marina”. I put the word marina in quotes as it’s not quite a marina – you’ll see why as you read through the story.
I was thankful to be in the calm waters of the port yet nervous as we couldn’t figure out who to call on the VHF to request a berth. The pilot book had no information nor did any of the websites detailing Rethymno marina. Usually, someone on a tender will come out to greet you or someone will be around waving their hands to show you were to go.
We tried calling on channel 16 and heard nothing
My husband, Simon, circled in the commercial harbor while I rang the only number I could find – the Rethymno port authority. Fortunately, a lovely woman told us to ring 67 on the VHF. Incidentally, we noticed the VHF call sign being displayed as you exit the marina rather than enter it! How frustrating.
Anyway, Simon called up, requested a berth and was told that no one could help us moor up until 7pm at night – 5 hours later. Apparently, the attendants were busy with a commercial vessel. Looking around, there was one tanker and one ferry in the port and no people for as far as the eye could see. Ho-hum…
Needless to say, we prepared the boat and I got ready to do all the warps (ropes) myself
The marina told us where to go, so we slowly started to back our stern into a spot. The wind was blowing very strong and it was hard to determine if mooring lines were available. Mooring lines are used to tie onto the bow of the boat and act as an anchor. Getting these in place is what keeps the boat from swaying or moving backwards onto the jetty.
Thankfully, there was a sailboat next to our mooring spot. Simon yelled over asking for help, and a woman and man jumped off – Lily and Richard. Sim had to back in several times as the wind was pushing the boat. Further, we had to back into a specific spot to get the only remaining mooring line. I managed to get a line to shore and secure the front mooring line but I couldn’t get the massive rope around our winch to tighten it.
The mooring line started off as a tiny little rope, that was tied to a larger rope and that large rope was then tied to a very large rope. I couldn’t get the very large rope onto the boat and around the winch…and I couldn’t winch the smaller rope as the knot wouldn’t go around it. It’s as if I pulled up a knotted mess and wasn’t strong enough to get into a position to help attach the rope to our boat.
Our boat was moving from side to side and Simon had to continuously push forward to prevent us from crashing on the jetty
Richard, yelled over to me, ‘do you mind if I get on so I can help you?’ I replied, ‘Yes, yes, yes!!!’ and was thankful that the couple, who were flying a Belgium flat, not only wanted to help us, but they also spoke English.
Richard jumped on and struggled for at least 10 minutes with the mooring line to pull it tight
I thought, if Richard struggled I’d have no chance at getting it tight. Lily worked hard along the stern to fend the boat off from hitting the jetty and hold the lines. I helped Richard and then helped Lily and could feel my stress rising. It must have taken us around 45 minutes to get our boat secure.
Never had we experienced such difficulties, but these were just the start!
Later, Richard and Lily explained that it’s a very difficult mooring. The wind blows you into and along the jetty – and it doesn’t help that most of the mooring lines are broken or missing. After taking time to get settled, Simon took Richard and Lily a beer and enjoyed chatting with them and discussion sailing stories. We were fortunate to have them over for an evening to hear about their background. They live on their boat in Egypt during the winter and sail around the Mediterranean during the summer. Richard, who is originally French, is a kite surfing instructor by day and a musician by night – we were honoured to be serenaded by him with his electric guitar! And Lily, from Belgium, is a lovely woman that has had quite a difficult few years. Her husband of 25 years passed away not too long ago so I hope that her travels are helping her to work through things.
After a nice evening of drinks, and a good sleep and a walk around the town the following morning, we returned to the boat as the wind started to blow.
The wind changed completely and was blowing off the shore in gusts
Everyone’s boat was moving from side to side and we all had to put fenders along the stern of the boat. I tied three fenders onto the ladder railing and then tied the bottoms together with a bucket that I sunk with water to keep them from floating up.
My main concern was the integrity of our mooring line!
If it broke, our boat would go smashing to the right, hit another boat and possible smash into the jetty. With wind blowing a 33 ton boat, nothing’s going to stop it!
Considering that there were so few mooring lines, and the fact that the marina was not maintained, I feared the worst
Our first idea was to take our anchor out and drop it. The issue with that was the ocean floor was full of old mooring lines, concrete blocks and who knows what. The risk of losing our anchor was high. And the depth was too far for us to swim down to check things out.
To my amazement, Richard yells over to us, I’ll go down and see if I can find another mooring line for you guys. At first Simon thought he was going to swim down but then realized he had tanks. Within a half hour, Richard had his tanks on and was scouring the ocean floor to find a line for us.
After 15 minutes of looking, he came up and explained that it’s an absolute mess
All the lines are knotted up and all over the place. He then suggested that we run one of our warps from the boat to the master chain and back. Fortunately, we have a very long yellow ship to land line that made it from our boat to the master chain block and back again!
Thank God – I can sleep tonight!
Once we secured the second line to the boat, Britican stopped flying about so much and we could all breathe again
We were then able to return the favour and help our new friends affix another bow line onto their boat. Seen below are Lily and Simon waiting for Richard to come back with a line.
I say this all the time – you don’t know what you don’t know. Every day is such a learning experience for us. For five months we’ve had absolutely no problems mooring up stern-to. We’ve never had an issue with winching the mooring line up. We’ve never had a situation where the wind blew strongly from one direction one day and the totally opposite the next day. We’ve never entered a marina and had no one there to help.
However, the one thing that has been consistent has been the assistance we’ve received from other sailors!
When we got storm-bound in Algiers, Algeria, a few engineers heard of our issues with our generator and spent hours trying to help us fix it (at no cost). Read: Our first sailing adventure
When sailing into Catana, Sicily, our sailed got stuck ¾ of the way up. We had to anchor and my cousin and I had to hoist my husband, Simon, up the 85’ mast. While sending him up, friends we met a few weeks earlier (on a boat next to us) heard of our troubles, got a motorboat and came up to help us! For that story read, Sailing to Catania in Sicily – dolphins and disasters included!
Several times along the cost of Sicily, we had a variety of issues. No matter what happened, someone was there to give us hand. When our boiler broke and turned into Niagara Falls, we freaked out. But a reader of this blog sent me the contact details of another sailor who works in the industry and within an hour, he talked us through rerouting our hot and cold water systems to isolate the problem.
So I’m delighted to have found a way to make new friends without smoking! Comradeship amongst sailors truly is an amazing thing – I highly suggest that everyone finds out what I’m experiencing.
Right…I’m in an anchorage right now where the boat is rocking back and forth quite violently… If I carry on typing, I’ll probably be ill very soon. So, usually I’d edit this a bit more, but in an effort to publish something today, here it is.