There are many trade-offs that we have made to be able to enjoy the cruising life, like long hot showers, a backyard, cable tv, accessibility to a lot of things. These things, and many more we were able to let go of. But there are also many essentials that are needed to be able to fully enjoy the cruising life, like vats of sunscreen, proper equipment, polarized sunglasses, a storage space full of wine, bug spray, and backup wine. But there is one thing, especially that could make or break a sailing experience, and that is a good Buddy Boat.
We are very social people, we did not take off sailing to excommunicate ourselves from all of society, to become hermits, to become the lone salts on the ocean. We enjoy this lifestyle and we enjoy sharing it with others. There have been times where we have found ourselves sailing alone, and the novelty of that wore off pretty quick. We much rather have friends around to enjoy the views and create special memories with.
The hard part is that sailing, in essence, is transient. So no matter how good of a buddy boat you have found, it is almost 100% guaranteed that you will eventually part ways. We have had some amazing boat buddies. Each of them take a little piece of my heart with them when they sail away, and some have even left me in tears feeling like I had just gone through the worst of breakups.
Last year was pretty magical in that many of the boat buddies that we have had over the past 6 years somehow congregated in the Virgin Islands for this one season. It was like my every boat wish had come true. And because of that, because of having those friends nearby, it made for one of our best cruising seasons ever.
So what is so amazing about having a buddy boat? Well let me tell you…
The sailing decisions no longer rest solely on your shoulders. You have another boat to bounce ideas off of, to compare weather forecasts with, to select the next best destination, and to ask to turn on their radar (since we don’t have one) to see if that big conglomeration of clouds up ahead is going to be a nasty squall.
You have someone, other than your sailing partner (I love mine dearly) to enjoy sundowners with. No longer are you sitting alone in your cockpit watching the sun go down wondering if drinking alone means you’re an alcoholic.
After a day of bad sailing, or of rocking to queasiness in a rolly anchorage, a boat buddy will gladly meet you on the beach with a bottle of wine, so that you can laugh off the horrible events of the day, and make sailing right again in your head.
When you run out of booze on your boat, a boat buddy will gladly break out their stores. This goes for food too. Have you had a hankering for something that you just haven’t been able to locate in the islands? If your boat buddy happens to have some on board it is as much yours as it is theirs. And next time they happen across it in a grocery store they will stock up on it just for you.
Don’t have a water maker? We’ve had boat buddies that ran theirs double-time so that we could fill our tanks because they couldn’t bare to see us shlep ourselves back and forth to the dinghy dock to do the jerry jug fill ups. Now that’s love.
When you have run out of shows to watch in the evenings, boat buddies are always there to share their hard drives with you and exchange whatever outdated shows they may have that you could entertain yourself with.
Boat buddies are pretty much one of the only ways for you to get that awesome picture of your boat underway. They also serve as a great tripod when you want to get that family photo, with all family members in it.
Even if your boat is running perfectly fine, it always reduces stress levels to know that you have a buddy boat watching your back during your next crossing. And they add a little extra fun by giving you someone to joke around with while you are doing the 2am-5am shift.
When the island ATM randomly decides not to give you money, even though you know there is no way your card should be blocked, boat buddies are there to cover you, because they have been there too. Or when a website will not accept that you want to order something with a Canadian credit card but ship it to a US island, boat buddy to the rescue. Mi Visa Es Su Visa.
Boat buddies will not judge you for the way you are raising your kids. They understand that your boat is the kids’ home, their playground, their zone, and they are fully capable to manoeuvre around the ship without having to worry that they may fall overboard.
Those scary boat noises that you don’t recognize, that could mean something detrimental to your boat (and your bank account), with boat buddies you have a few more ears to help you identify it. And then some extra hands, and tools, to help you fix it. We have been very thankful for some boat buddies that were able to talk us down from some stressful boat breakage situations.
Boat buddies are always willing to dinghy across the bay to pick you up when your outboard has mysteriously failed.
When some evil troll decides to smear your blog or misconstrue your opinions/lifestyle on a public forum, your buddy boat will totally have your back come to your defence. They have “lived” with you, shared moments with you, seen how it really is, and nobody will say otherwise.
Even if they are kidless themselves, boat buddies will help take some of the parenting burden off of your shoulders, just by accepting that by sailing together your kids have now also become their kids.
Boat buddies check your list of needs before they fly back to visit family and friends. And they make sure they have extra room left in their bags to mule some much needed stuff back to you, even if it is something as foolish as your favorite chocolate bars.
If ever you just need to get off your own boat, you are always welcome in your boat buddies cockpit. No matter how dirty their boat may be, the “doors” are always open. Even if you just want to sit there.
Boat buddies will cram your two kids into their already full boat so that you can enjoy a date night with your significant other. Date nights on a boat happen once in a blue moon, and having a buddy boat that is willing to deal with your kids says something hugely magical about them.
When your kids are driving you nuts and you are feeling like you are completely claustrophobic in your own boat, boat buddies will join you on the beach, drink in hand, and accompany you in letting all the kids run around like complete wildlings. They will also stand proudly by, while beach combing tourists give you weird looks for letting your kidlets swim unattended (because you personally know they swim like fish) while you sit in the shade sipping on spritzers.
When you need someone to listen to you rant on about the hardships of sailing, or of raising kids on a boat, a good boat buddy is right there. Letting you get it all off your chest with non-judgemental ears. They get it.
When true boat buddy connections are made, both parties will completely alter their sailing plan just so that you can stay together for as long as possible.
To all of the amazing Boat Buddies we have had, that have had to pry themselves out of crying grips when we parted ways, I thank you for being such a significant and memorable part of our cruising life. YOU ROCK!
And to all of you out there, I wish you a boating life full of amazing boat buddies of your own.