Community is important for my happiness. There have been times in my life when I didn’t know my neighbours and a helping hand was far away. I think that a lot of people who live in cities feel that way. Too many people get mixed up in cults and other nonsense in their search for community. I have been privileged enough to fall in with a different group.
We often say that being a cruiser is like living in a small town that happens to move around. We have a wonderful community on the water. In local waters you’ll find the average person on a boat far friendlier than the average person on the street. After all, you have an interest in boats in common in addition to being neighbours. But when you sail overseas, the community grows stronger. Part of this is of necessity. Sometimes there are no people other than your neighbours on their boats. You are each other’s mechanics, doctors, emergency suppliers, and rescuers. Even when there is a local population in the anchorage, language and cultural barriers interfere with our ability to interact. Even a first-world town typically won’t have needles strong enough to stitch sails, but your neighbour is sure to have a spare when yours break.
So this wonderful community forms. We band together to help each other out, and we socialize when times are good. Crews that need help get it and we all feel good about being part of the community. The winds blow us from port to port. We make new friends and reunite with old ones. When I’m in trouble in a strange port, a word on the VHF radio brings a knowledgable voice and typically a squadron of helpers. And there is always an opportunity to repay past kindness with my own hands.
The people in the places that you visit are usually very welcoming. Remote places treat visitors like gifts. They are happy to meet you. Often you can help each other out. Machines in remote places sit broken for long periods for the lack of the simple tools and materials that any moderately well prepared boat keeps aboard at all times. A bolt, a screwdriver, or a short length of wire can work miracles for people who don’t have them handy.
Even in cities, the cruising community can help out. I have my current employment partly due to getting to know people on the docks.
Especially if you’re isolated from your neighbours, cruising is a great way to join a strong and welcoming community. Go boating. I’m glad that I did.