I read somewhere there are about 10,000 full time liveaboard cruisers worldwide, and while that seems like a lot, it’s really a small world out here. The longer we keep moving the more boats we recognize from previous anchorages. Some boats we’ve travelled with for many miles together, others we recognize the name, hear them on the radio or overhear them in a café, and start conversations with just because we have this lifestyle in common.
We started in Florida. Our stop in Marathon, FL, was an eye-opener. There were at least 200-300 sailboats either on moorings, in slips or at anchor. We met a lot of people while we installed some solar panels and did some additional work prior to setting off to Bimini. In Bimini, we met even more cruising sailors, several whom we had already met in Marathon. We teamed up with a couple from the Netherlands on La Luna that were on year 6 of a circumnavigation and Pepper from Texas and headed across the banks, through the Exumas and down to Georgetown, another sailing mecca, ala Marathon. Along the way we met the likes of YaRiKa, Vagabond, Pura Vida, Aqua Vida, Ursa Minor (another Taswell ’43, also from Texas), See Ya, plus many others. We would also hear boats on the radio daily on the Cruisers Net and Channel 16 or 68 (which are always on).
We got way-laid in Georgetown as we had planned a cruise to the Bahamas — yes, we flew to Miami to board a Norwegian ship bound for the Bahamas Berry Islands (it was an ethnic punk rock music cruise – we went to see the bands), and I flew home to visit my parents.
In the meantime most of the people we had met so far had already gone south, so we took off by ourselves and headed towards the Turks and Caicos, down to Luperon, Dominican Republic. We met Persephone along the way who lived in the DR and they showed us a great time while there. We immediately recognized some boats from our time in the Bahamas and met some new friends.
We teamed up with Smitty, Party of Five, Sea Frog and Sea Squirrel and did the major easting with them (sailing straight into the wind at night in the lee of the islands when the wind dies down), across the DR, Mona Passage, and Puerto Rico.
Then we hit the Virgin Islands, and in Culebra we met Orion. We then met Kookaburra in St. Thomas. Party of Five and Last Tango decided to make a straight run from St. Thomas to Grenada since it was getting late in the season.
We had a few problems pop up and ended up in Guadeloupe, where Mike and Travis met Avanti. We then went to Martinique to get the parts and finish the work, then we headed to Grenada.
It was like cruiser homecoming! We stayed in Grenada for hurricane season. Our first introduction was via email from Pura Vida to meet Grateful who were anchored close by. They had just caught a ginormous wahoo and invited us for a wonderful dinner. In no time Avanti, Grateful, Party of Five and Last Tango were having beach BBQ’s, playing bingo for goats and pigs, dominos, potlucks. Grateful renewed their 35th anniversary wedding vows on the beach.
We spent time with Vagabond, Invincible, and other boats we had met from the past, but also made new friends with Symbiosis, Seaschelle (SP?), and so many others it’s hard to list them all.
When Matthew headed toward Grenada, Grateful, Avanti and Last Tango decided to make a visit to Trinidad, along with a slew of other boats, but for the most part we hung fairly close together.
Upon return to Grenada, we started heading north, this time more leisurely through the islands. By this time we had accumulated websites and FB alliances with so many boats we can now keep in touch with each other. The benefit is unparalleled. The sailors ahead of us provide us with very useful info on the new place we are visiting, often we get to spent an evening or more (i.e. we loved our time with Grateful and Panache in Bequia and St. Lucia!). We are moving at our own pace but keep running into people we know. This community is a whole lot smaller than you think. As our former next door land neighbor Sybil Craig said, “we are a travelling neighborhood”. Not only that we have cruising friends far and wide, and I think that’s the best part of sailing – meeting the cruisers as well as the locals! And since we keep running into the same people, it’s never “goodbye” – it’s “See Ya Later!”.