When my family and I lived in England we had lovely neighbors. When we drove into our driveway we’d beep the horn and say ‘hi’ and from time to time we’d stop and chat for a bit.
If something strange happened on the street, like the time a car crashed into the entrance of the the park and a police chase by foot ensued, all us neighbors stood outside in our pajamas discussing the likely events leading up to the crash.
As a whole, however, we all kept to ourselves
Often the weather was wet or dark. People had things to do, places to go. Life in our neighborhood was more about getting the kids to school, sports practice, music lessons or rushing from work to the gym and then off to a social function. Life was very busy.
Everyone, including ourselves, was always rushing off to the next thing
When we moved from living on land full time to living on our boat I speculated that we’d meet more people. I figured that the outdoor nature of boating would bring us together with other boaties. Furthermore, I thought that life on a boat is less frantic.
Boaties are more laid back – they know they want to get from point A to point B but the length of time it takes isn’t often an issue. Life is slower. And a slower life, perhaps, allows for more time for others?
My speculations were somewhat correct
To say that our social life has increased is a drastic understatement. Our social life now makes our old lives look as if we never ventured outside the house.
Living the lifestyle of a boatie can be extremely sociable
In fact, there have been a few times when hubby and I have left an anchorage and sailed for quite a distance just to get a bit of quiet or alone time. It’s not that we didn’t like being sociable. I think it was more like the fact that we couldn’t say ‘no’ to a sundowner (drinks as the sun goes down), a potluck meal, an excursion or any invitation!
Essentially, we needed to sail so to let our bodies recover from our amazing social life!
In the grand scheme of things, I love the fact that other boaties on their tenders come over to our boat and introduce themselves. I enjoy the opportunity to meet for sundowners with boats in the harbor that we already know. And even when we’re in a marina, it’s fantastic to meet your neighbor, hear their story and make plans for an evening meal at a restaurant.
Every once in a while, we do come across loners, however
It’s easy to say that one lifestyle is different from another but overall, every lifestyle has extremes. There are definitely salty seadogs that avoid people, avoid conversation and keep to themselves. And, of course, there are social butterflies that know everyone in the bay, are constantly organizing activities and put sleep on hold for achieving the social queen award.
The extremes are the exception – not to the rule
So…the cruisers lifestyle is a bit slower, sociability is way higher and what else? What else is different from life on land to life on the sea (in our experience)?
Well, cruisers tend to be much more open and frank when they’re talking to others. In many cases you might meet someone for one or two evenings. Small talk often isn’t necessary. We all have similar issues and similar problems. The first few minutes of a discussion might be about where we came from and where we’re going but the discussion soon leads to deeper topics. Sometimes the discussions revolve around the meaning of life and other times it’s all about whether the other person has a spare fuse or part!
It’s as if you already know all the other cruisers in a bay but you haven’t yet spoken with them…or met them face-to-face. After a few minutes of meeting it’s almost as if you’re meeting an old friend.
Cruisers form a bond quickly
Perhaps the quick bond is formed because:
1. We are all having very similar experiences – the last storm, the broken water pump, the inaccurate weather report, weevils or bugs in the flour, a quest to find gasoline for the tender and on and on…
2. We’re out in the open. We see other people when we’re sailing, when we’re at anchorage and when we’re in a marina. We’re outside in our cockpit for a large part of the day. This welcomes others to come say ‘hi’ and chew the fat. (Side note: I wonder if people on land put their backyard into their front yard if they’d have more of a sense of community? I suppose that could backfire if you didn’t like your neighbor. On a boat, we can move our front and back yard!)
3. We’re a captive audience. No one is going anywhere. We’re sitting on the boat and sure we go to the beach or into town from time to time, but mostly we’re just chilling out doing nothing slowly! And if we are doing a repair, help is always welcome!
4. We all need help from time to time. This is a big one. There have been many times that we’ve needed a small part or even an cooking ingredient and we’ve had to ask a neighbor. And of course, there are times when troubles hit – an engine dies, our anchor gets knotted or a dangerous situation arises. We’ve made so many friends both being helped and helping others. We’re a community that actually stretches around the world – it’s amazing.
And this leads me to my opening question,’ How often do you share a lice comb with your neighbor?’
If you asked me that question when I was on land, I would say, ‘YUCK!! There’s no way I would, one, get lice and two, tell anyone about it let alone ask for a lice comb!’
Well…much to my dismay and disgust, our daughter, Sienna, went to preschool in Antigua and came home with head-lice. Being so out of the loop about schools and concepts such as lice the idea of it never crossed our minds.
After seeing my daughter scratch her head a couple times, I then started to scratch my head. One thing let to another and I found lice and nits (the eggs). In utter horror, I said yelled out to my husband, Simon…
‘Please go to the closest pharmacy and find out if we can get Lice shampoo and one of those special combs.’
Simon jumped off the boat – luckily we were in a marina – and he ran into the owner of the guy doing our rigging repairs. Before Simon knew what was going on, he was in the rigger guys car being driven to the local ‘Search and Rescue’ office. Apparently, they stocked lice shampoo – who would have known? The Search and Rescue office gave the shampoo to Simon and only asked for a small donation.
I wonder if lice is common with boaties?!
Simon got back to the boat and I immediately put the shampoo on me and my daughters hair and as a precaution I had Simon and our crewmember, Eve use it too. When it came to the comb part of getting lice out of our hair, it was a disaster. The shampoo said that it would kill most of the lice but the key was combing the eggs out of the hair. The comb that came with the shampoo was a pathetic plastic thing that just didn’t work.
And that’s when a neighboring boat friend stopped by and said, ‘I heard you had lice. I’ve got one of those good lice combs. Before we left England I put one in the First Aid bag in case the kids got lice.’
Feeling slightly embarrassed I gracefully accepted the comb and eventually discovered that all of us on the boat had lice!
EWWWWWWWWW. It was disgusting.
To make matters worse, the friend that gave us the comb ended up getting them too! Everyone on her boat was infected – the parents and two kids – my daughter must have infected them! Oh, the embarrassment.
So…for three days our boat and our friends boat passed the Nit Comb back and forth reporting how many lice we found and how many eggs we terminated.
In reflection, and now that the lice and nits are gone, I feel humbled and very human by the experience. If we were on land, we would have probably had one isolated case of the lice (only on my daughter) and it would have been taken care of without anyone knowing a thing.
Now I can look back and laugh about
Each evening we had drinks with our friends and spent a good half hour discussing the kills for the day. How crazy is that?
Never did I think that an experience with lice would turn out to be a memorable moment! But it did. How can it get better than that?