Forty years ago, I attended music camp in Farmington Maine, where one of the adult counselors spoke to the girls during orientation. We thought she was old, (she was at least 40!) old fashioned, and fussy, and we didn’t take her seriously. Music Camp was held on the campus of a small state university which was situated right in the town of Farmington, so those who were responsible for a few hundred 14 – 18 year old teens must have lost a lot of sleep at night. This woman was trying to impress on us that some of the boys we might meet in town may not be the kind of boy you’d want to introduce to your grandmother. Her phrase was, “There are town boys ---- and there are Town. Boys..” Try it. Say “There are town boys” with a lift at the end in a June Cleaver, welcome to dinner, manner. Now say, “And There. Are.Town. Boys,” in the same manner as you would say, “And there are Werewolves.” Repeating this phrase to each other could send us into a fit of giggles at any moment.
We who’ve sailed to the Eastern Caribbean and are taking one or more years to explore these waters don’t often (ever?) socialize with the Bare-Boaters – those folks who fly to weather and charter a boat for a week or two. Some of us may have been Bare-Boaters in the past as it’s a great way to try out cruising, but our agendas are different.
- Cruisers are sailing on their home. Bare-boaters sail OPB’s -- Other People’s Boats.
- Cruisers believe they anchor much more successfully than Bare-Boaters, and take 30-60 minutes to make sure they are well-anchored. Some Bare-Boaters steam into an anchorage, drop the hook, get into their dinghy and run ashore – all within 15 minutes. (For this reason, when Cruisers see a Bare-Boat coming into an anchorage, many cross their fingers and chant quietly, “Don’t anchor near us. Don’t anchor near us.”
- Cruisers fix and install things. Bare-boaters call the charter company for service.
- Cruisers are on a budget for a year of normal living. Bare-boaters are on a vacation budget.
- Cruisers have established friendships, VHF radio nets and even Facebook pages. Bare-Boaters may not know about any of these resources.
- Cruisers are singles, couples, or “nuclear” families, so establishing a network and reaching out are priorities. Couples do charter - especially honey-mooners, but Bare-Boaters may include a group of friends, 3 or 4 couples, two families, or three generations. One purpose of their trip is to have time to sail and play together. The honey-mooners don't socialize that much, either.
- Cruisers have weeks and months to explore the harbors, towns and beaches. Bare-boaters have one or two weeks. Consequently, Cruisers may stay in an anchorage for weeks, while Bare-Boaters move every two or three days.
The result: we rarely meet and get to know the Bare-Boaters (called “Squigglies” by some Cruisers in reference to the Moorings Logo).
The other day, EW and I met three Bare-Boater couples the evening before their last day at sea. I so wish we’d had time to invite them over for drinks or meet up with them on shore. I chatted with them the next morning when I stopped by in the dinghy while running errands. (This is the cruisers’ version of a Maine “Dooryard Call”, where you drop by for a chat but stay in the driveway. Cruisers stop by for a quick visit and stay in the dinghy.)
These folks are the finest of Bare-Boaters. They are experienced sailors and one couple are both licensed Captains. They all sail in San Francisco Bay, so they’re used to rocks, mud, fog, squirrely winds and huge ships. They’ve chartered in Greece, Turkey, and throughout the Caribbean..
They are African American and readily discuss what it’s like to be among the few. Evidently at least one Grenadian was excited to meet his first African American sailors. I was simply delighted to meet and chat with six charming and experienced fellow-sailors. That’s one of the reasons we’re out here.
Bon-voyage D., B., E., W., J., and C! Have a safe flight home. Give us a call the next time you’re in the neighborhood. We’d love to have you over. You are Bare-Boaters of the finest kind.