After four days in beautiful Hanamoena, we planned to traverse the 60 miles and 12-16 hours to Nuku Hiva. We spent the day snorkeling and swimming. I took a nap around 4 p.m., cooked some tasty corn chowder around 5:30 p.m. with the intention of pulling our anchor at 7 p.m. This would time our landing for sometime the next morning, safely in daylight.
“Putter, putter” a dinghy pulls up to Sonrisa’s gate and two people poke their heads above the lifelines. “Hello! Are you dressed?” Granted, this is a valid question out here. Our neighbors from the Netherlands were wandering around their boat with no clothes on most of the day today. Not to worry, we are from America — the land settled by prudish puritans — so we were at least dressed in our swimsuits. I invite our new friends on deck for a beer; they are Eric and Vandy, from a sailboat named Scoots. We hit it off immediately, and spend the evening chit chatting about sailing, our boats, their new tattoos, and our former lives on land. What do you know, it is 10 p.m. and we have not left.
The Scoots invite us over for “Elevenses” (see Master and Commander for further explanation) to drink espresso with anther group of cruisers the next morning. We will have to wait until evening to leave again, so we may as well. We swim over at 11 a.m. and haul ourselves aboard. Next thing we know, it’s 10 p.m. again and our anchor is still firmly set! We did, however, secure ourselves a reservation for possible use on a hurricane mooring in Tonga being abandoned by another set of cruisers who crossed from Mexico and decided that long sails were not for them. We also uploaded Eric’s full copy of Wikipedia on our hard drive. This will solve so many debates. Networking is productive, people.
Neither Andrew nor I had much experience with what it is like to make quick friends in many new places. Andrew lived in the same house his entire childhood in Midvale, Utah. His parents still live right there. I grew up in Tooele, Utah; and my immediate family has lived in Tooele for three generations. Andrew and I both went to college at the University of Utah, and I completed law school there. Until we moved to Las Vegas at age 25, we were safely nestled in with the same close family and friends we had our entire lives. When we moved to Vegas, we did start from scratch. Luckily, during law school, we spent some time with friends who showed us the value of hosting dinner parties. We took this singular friend-building skill set to Las Vegas and got to work. We spent a decade in Las Vegas building rewarding friendships.
Meeting friends out here is different. You never know when someone might pop in. Our schedule and paths may overlap for some time, or we meet them once then off we/they go into the sunset. Hopefully, they leave us with a boat card, blog name, and if we are lucky, a recipe for homemade gin or other valuable lesson that will keep us off the rocks - literally or figuratively. This transience does not stop us from diving into long conversations about each other’s histories, philosophies and favorite personal anecdotes. We have more time available to explore everything — our personal aquarium, books we are interested in and new friends. On land, when do you ever have time to sit at chat with someone new and interesting at random for an evening, the next full day and then a third evening? It takes months to set up a play date for your kids or a little dinner party with work colleagues. Everyone’s schedule has to be coordinated - often twice because something changes. Out here, it is purely impromptu; if it delays your departure from your favorite anchorage so far…well, so be it.
In addition, the diversity of the people we are spending time with is amazing. Sailing and/or life near the ocean gives us an immediate experience in common to build upon. In the three short weeks we have been in the Marquesas we have had drinks/dinner with the following:
S/V Jade: a couple cruising with their 8 and 10 year old kids from England; their crew member from Colorado, USA;
S/V Anacam: an Australian and his crew member from LA, California;
S/V Ostrika: a Swiss and an Italian
Mario and Friends: Local Marquesan Islanders
S/V Lufi: a New Zealander and his wife from England;
S/V Kalliope: A woman originally from Alaska, and two men who were helping her for the weekend from Czechoslovakia
S/V Athanor: a cruising couple from Washington, USA
S/V Scoots: a cruising couple from California, USA
S/V Alma: A single handed fella from Sweden. Alma is a 27foot boat! Tiny.
S/V Tamara: a couple and their crew member from Norway
S/V Wilhelm: another couple from Norway
The ages of these people range from 24 to 63. Their prior professions are equally as diverse: business owner; marketing professional; history teacher, mechanical engineer; nurse; car mechanic; biological engineer; microbiologist turn kids camp director; retired firefighter; two professional sailboat captains; one professional sailboat crew member; non-profit executive director; physical therapist; artist; a journalism major who graduated during the economic downturn and started traveling full time, a Marquesan land owner; a Marquesan fisherman; a Marquesan pig hunter.
Eric and Vandy passed down several pieces of valuable advice, but my favorite advice was as follows: every time you arrive in a new anchorage, pull out your dinghy and make a circuit of all the boats there to introduce yourself and say hi. Not every boat will house new best friends, but you will find the ones that do and you won’t regret it. This advice applies on land as well as at sea. Go first; be the person to smile and say hello, open doors and introduce yourself. You never know when such an effort will result in witnessing a rousing rendition of the Norwegian birthday song.