No matter how you travel or where you are, once you’re in a new, unfamiliar place you are probably more open to meet new people, make friends and find a community to belong to.
Making friends while travelling to different places, however, is rather odd compared to forming relationships with others when you are settled in one place. Since it’s likely that you meet people with similar lifestyles and on similar adventures as you, it is fairly easy to find common ground and connect with fellow travellers, in our case mostly cruisers. A more isolated life on a boat makes even the shy sailor crawl out of his companionway to start conversations with fellows passing on dinghies.
To be fair, cruisers in general also create this welcoming environment wherever we go, inviting everybody in the anchorage to a beach hangout or potluck, organizing hikes or yoga sessions together and stopping by your boat on their paddle boards to introduce themselves.
The typical questions like “Where are you from?”, “Where have you sailed from?”, “What’s your route?”, “What kind of boat do you have?” are easy smalltalk openers, which then usually evolve into funny sailing anecdotes, helpful tips and recommendations, and ultimately the most intesting and diverse backgrounds of various people.
The main differences compared to our previous city life is how easy we make friends in various age groups and stages of life, and how much these encounters influence our trip, our perspectives and us personally. We’ve spent time and made friends with people in our parents’ and even grandparents’ age, with kids, teenagers and young families and it all felt totally natural. In the uncommon situation that we actually meet others in our age, we get extra excited and automatically put beers and rum punch in the fridge.
It might not be so obvious to the people we meet, but we often think back and appreciate the lovely evenings, delicious drinks and food, healthy laughs, personal tips, unconditional help or valuable lessons and perspectives we have gained through each encounter. So, thank you to all the awesome cruisers, sailors, locals, land tourists, backpackers, yachties, and dogs that we have crossed ways with and therefore have enriched our trip so far!
We also noted that we embrace new friendships much quicker, and value even the briefest acquaintances, as well as, being also more open to approach others. Maybe because we have more time, maybe because we are a bit starved of social contact with friends and family, or maybe simply because we start to become more and more curious.
Being spoken to by strangers in the city was not only unusual, but also not always welcomed, mostly having headphones in our ears or an alledged time pressure to have to be in other places. Now being talked to while taking a shower on the back of the boat, while being soaked by rain on the way to land or while taking an evening stroll at the beach is always appreciated; also because we seldom experienced a negative intention when being approached. Generally, everybody just seems so happy, helpful and satisfied.
As fast as we built meaningful friendships along the way, the weirder it is how used we get to saying goodbye. Since all of us travellers are constantly on the move, passing by on different routes, we randomly run into each other and enjoy spending time together, but as soon as one of us moves on, saying goodbye is strangely easy, not comparable to saying goodbye in a settled land life at all. Not only is there a high chance of seeing each other again because it is such a small world, but the desire to go back out at sea and explore the next destination is so strong that leaving the old behind is somehow just secondary in that moment.
Anyway we think that this trip has taught and will teach us a lot about different perspectives on friendships and social encounters. The cruising community seems to be a small circle, in which it’s highly likely that you find common friends or run into each other again.
We are definitely excited about who else we’ll share drinks, food, stories and especially laughs with in the future…