It’s quite an undertaking to get ready for life ashore – lots of physical work to prepare Dragonfly and mental work to readjust to life ashore in the Land O’ Plenty.
Mr Insurance Man in London said we could leave Dragonfly in the Caribbean as long as we were south of 10 degrees 12 minutes north latitude, so the south coast of Grenada is now our boat’s home for the hurricane season.
Taking the boat out of the water makes the most sense as there are fewer risks, and so the sails come off, the dinghy gets stored, the canvas bimini is removed, the water maker pickled, basically everything is unrigged.
And so when it’s all done and Dragonfly is securely stored in the boatyard, it’s time to head home and start looking forward to next season and all the places to be explored.
Brigitte and Gerald live full time on a sister ship of Dragonfly – Jetlag is an Amel Super Maramu and they were docked directly across from us when we arrived off the plane in Martinique. As we stood on the dock contemplating how best to get all our gear onboard and dry, they hopped off Jetlag and just started helping out. A great friendship was born.
Brigitte and Gerald are from Switzerland, he’s a retired Swiss Air pilot and she is a retired schoolteacher.
They initially cruised the Med and crossed the Atlantic a few years ago to spend time in the Caribbean. Jetlag overlapped with us in Martinique as they were undertaking an extensive refit before heading west on a long planned, slow circumnavigation (10 years is the current thinking). After receiving much technical repair advice and help, trips sailing and to the beach, dinners and game nights, it was time for hugs, goodbyes and well wishes.
Terry and Balsa
Terje and Balsa are from Norway. Far northern Norway. Terje goes by Terry as it’s easier for people outside Scandinavia to pronounce. I called him the Teddy Bear in Underwear, because every single day the only thing he wore was his boxer underwear.
Totally mellow, he was in Martinique to thaw out; he had spent his career as a Volvo heavy equipment diesel engine mechanic working north of the Arctic circle. His hands continually hurt from the nature of his profession and the location of his employer. Balsa is more zen than Terry and would walk off the boat’s passarelle to greet folks on the dock. He only had a problem with a large, ornery old cat from a nearby boat. It seemed to be a mutual hate/hate relationship but everyone lived another day whilst we were there.
Nick was part of what I called the Scandinavian mafia – amazing how many cruisers there are from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. He and his wife own a 75 foot steel schooner called Skydancer; they spend their summers in Greenland hosting charter guests aboard for sail and ski vacations, as well as research scientists, documentary film makers and the like. They spend their winters in the Caribbean recovering and warming up. Nick is a huge guy, very friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to share advice and suggestions. Pretty comfortable in the islands, yet easy to see how he’d be in his element navigating his vessel amongst the summer ice flows around Greenland.
Thomas was the other member of the Scandinavian mafia. He was single-handing his Bavaria 55 around the world and documenting it on his YouTube channel: Free Thomas. Terry, Balsa, Nick and Thomas could spend hours in Django’s cockpit telling stories – it became this really nice background noise as they chatted in their common language.
Krista and Bill
All Canadians are nice folks and Krista and Bill were no exception. We first chatted them up at the marina pool in Canouan and continued to see them and enjoy our time chatting. Bill owned a pharmaceutical wholesale company in St Johns New Brunswick that he sold at an early age. Krista was a school teacher and gets a gold star for being such a good trooper. Maybe 10 days before we met they were going to shore in their dinghy, got out to pull the boat onto the beach, and a wave hit the boat, spun it, and hit Krista directly in the rib cage with the outboard motor shaft. Ouch – cracked ribs, lots of pain then discomfort, but never a complaint and always a great attitude.
Lifelong sailors, they decided to buy a Trintella 57 (Dutch aluminum sloop with Solent rig) and have enjoyed the past 16 winters sailing in the Caribbean. When we met they were quick to make it clear Krista is only 10 years younger, probably because everyone assumes it’s a bigger number.
And So Many More
And then there was Grant and Andrea from South Africa, Duncan and Kathy from Toronto, Nigel and Susan from England / Boston, Joshua and Maaike from the Netherlands, and so many more friendly and interesting people each pursuing their dreams and living life to the fullest. Hope to see all of you in a quiet anchorage someday soon.
When traveling we often look for how things are different because that interests us. But, when we find that things are the same, this is when it becomes fascinating.
For when we find sameness, it exists in an environment that is so completely different from what we know, what we’re comfortable with, what we assume to be true and, oftentimes, what we assume to be ours.
Traveling for several months throughout the Windwards, visiting 11 islands spread across four countries, that is what we have seen: the universal truth in how people live. They want to live with Dignity, and to be treated with Respect, and to be part of a Community, and to have a Family.
Rashon was the cutest little kid, maybe 7 or 8, full of life and energy and a sparkle in his eyes, but alas quiet and shy and a bit uncertain. Barefoot in the sand, he was closely attached to our waitress at this outdoor beach bbq on an uninhabited island in the Tobago Cays Marine Park. Back and forth they both went to the open air kitchen – grilled lobster, marlin, veggie rice, potatoes, fried plantains and more.
We asked our waitress if Rashon was her child. No, he’s my little friend, we like each other a lot, his mother isn’t really able to take care of him, he’s happier when he’s here on the island with Free Willy (the owner of the bbq tent) and me. They looked at each other with the warmest, most affectionate smiles.
Dinner over, plates being cleared, Rashon comes racing up, eager to help. It was a memorable moment, a short moment, but one that we all observed. As our waitress handed a plate to Rashon, he took it, but she paused, reaching back to him, and ever so thoughtfully, carefully, and gently, she took his little hands in hers, repositioned his fingers and wrists, and simply smiled at him. He looked up at her. Nothing said, but love was spoken.
The smallest action, helping a child to find a better way, being part of his life and his community, respecting him in front of a table of four adults, four strangers, four foreigners, allowing him to have a role with pride and dignity.
People want a job, or if not a job, then they want a role, because a job (or a role) allows them to live with dignity.
Every place we visit, walking down the street, or through a neighborhood, we’re greeted with smiles and hellos and welcomes and can I help you. Boat boys arrive when we arrive:
Can I help you with your mooring?
Do you want ice?
In the morning they are at our side again:
Do you want banana bread? (banana cake at Union Island)
Do you have trash?
Only once have we felt aggression, but that was in the form of upselling and re-pricing. On reflection, it possibly was driven by hunger and needs and maybe a bit of desperation. And it all worked out
Bonjour. Ca Va.
Hello. Good morning
Fist bump. Thumbs up.
Nearly everything is closed on Sundays in the islands. Sundays are for church and for friends and for family. But not for work, there is plenty of time for that. Everywhere we went, we saw families in the morning dressed for church and in the afternoon dressed for the beach. Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, kids, friends, aunts, uncles. Driving to church, walking to church. Sitting on the beach. Grilling on the beach. Playing in the water. Listening to music. Having a drink. Down here, it’s called Limin’. We might say Chilling. Here it’s Limin’.
A desire to live with dignity and be treated with respect. To be seen. To be acknowledged. To be engaged. To live as part of a community, to belong. To have a family, and children. And the forever hope that my children will have more opportunity, be better off, have a better life, than I have had.
Talk to me.
Recognize not the difference between you and me, but the sameness between you and me.