After all the hugs were given and the usual, “It’s not goodbye, but until next time’s” were said, we parted ways with the family and crew of five from SV Arctic Monkey. Our families — with five kids ranging from 3 to 11 — have been nearly inseparable for weeks, cementing one of those fast and lasting friendships that is truly unique to living on a sailboat and cruising.
Throughout the years and miles, making friends while cruising and living on Yahtzee has become one of the things that we cherish most about this lifestyle. Living in similar circumstances as other cruisers, sailors and adventurers, we form quick and deep bonds because we share the same highs and lows of life. And though miles eventually separate us, distance never matters.
Over time, we have also come to recognize that this particular part of our life is commonly misunderstood from the outside. People often assume that by living on a sailboat and moving relatively often, and sometimes very quickly, we’re not developing deep and lasting relationships. Time and again, we get some form of a comment that without firmly planted “roots”, lasting friendships must be hard for us to develop and nurture.
In general, we get the underlying sentiment but nod and smile knowing that it is simply a lack of knowledge on their part — which is fine. What we’ve found when making friends while cruising is that the barriers to fully understanding the joys, challenges, triumphs and frustrations of this lifestyle are already down. Accordingly, we’re able to instantly start on common ground when we meet new people in a far-flung anchorage or on the dock in the next port. And age is of no consequence. The connections can be — and in many cases are — quick, real and long lasting.
With folks who don’t know what this all entails, it is difficult to help them understand. What we do is so different than a “normal” life on land, making it abstract, and hard to grasp. And even when non-cruisers think they’ve begun to rationalize the essence of it what it is, they’re still a long way off. It’s not good or bad or right or wrong, it’s just the nature of living the way we do. We get it, how we live is different. And different is hard for many people to wrap their minds around.
What we try to say is that our friendships are strong because they are born through a unique connection, people stay in touch and come visit, and we make an effort to meet up along the way. After all, it’s along the way where we encounter these kindred spirits that turn into wonderful friends. And when we come back together after all the years and miles, we don’t skip a beat. We hug, laugh, savor drink and food, share sea stories of water under our keels and make the most of our time together because we know it will likely be fleeting. We’re ok with that.
If anything, we’ve found these nomadic relationships to be incredibly fulfilling. They’re free from the the immense clutter of houses, cars, 401ks, traffic lights, more stuff and bigger everything. Instead, they’re untethered, genuine and hassle free. They roll with time and tide, which is the way we prefer to live life.
Looking towards friends on the horizon
Many readers of this blog know that we are full on live-in-the-moment type folks. We generally don’t make plans too far in advance because we know they’ll likely change a million times. It’s our style and it suits us well. But now that we’ve finished a full year living in one place, something we haven’t done in a long time, we’re starting to get an itchy keel and can’t help but turn a weather eye towards the future.
When our re-power is complete this fall, we’re looking at a winter’s worth of small projects around the boat before we get ready to leave Seward come late spring. Our “plan” then is to explore more of Alaska for the summer before turning south towards warmer climes. After living and cruising in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska for over six years and loving it, it’s finally time for our crew to say goodbye and chase a bit of summer. And a major catalyst for heading south is to meet up with friends and other kid boats.
With cruising friends already in Pacific Mexico, others on their way this fall and more set to depart next year, we’re ready to join the migration south. Though our actual plans are always written in sand at low tide, we’re feeling the pull of the middle latitudes again and are working hard to make that a reality. As always, we’re excited to meet more people along the way, so if you’re a cruiser planning on heading towards palm trees next year, let us know, we’d love to say hi!