This blog has a whole lot of posts about friends. As friend/cousin Jeff says, “I love you a whole bunch of lots.” Well, we love our friends a whole bunch of lots and I tend to write about what I love. For the most part, cruising sailors seem to be outstanding friend-makers, and those we’ve gotten to know talk often about special friends back home, or cruising friends who keep in touch from distant ports. EW and I are incredibly fortunate to have wonderful friends; childhood friends, friends we met in our late teens and twenties, friends we met just a few years before leaving Maine, and many new cruising friends-for-life. Thank goodness. I don’t know what we’d do without our friends. Here are a few examples – with apologies to those not mentioned:
EW met Jim in third or fourth grade. (That’s what EW said. Jim could probably quote the exact time – but then Jim wouldn’t be installing bulkhead supports for the auto pilot when I asked him.) Jim and his lovely wife, Marcia, visited us last year in St. Thomas, and this year they drove over 6 hours one way to have lunch with us during our short stay in Florida. Jim is on the class reunion committee so we made sure to get a photo he can show to the rest of the class of ‘64. It’s not the best photo of either of them, but the conversation, laughter and love overflowed the table at that lunch. Ed lived across the street from EW. Ed was a few years older and as EW says, “He used to beat me up.” Evidently both got over that. Like Jim, Ed and Lynn came to Maine for our wedding nearly 29 years ago, visited us in Maine over the years, and were must-sees whenever we went to the Buffalo area. Ed and Lynn visited us this year in St. Thomas and we had a lovely time showing them the sights on St. Thomas and St. John, catching up on the gang, and sharing stories about our adult kids, recent adventures and past exploits.
Kathy and I met the first day of school in fifth grade. The two of us met Cathy when she was assigned to our freshman triple at UMO almost (gasp!) forty years ago. We three have been dear friends for life ever since. Kathy and Cathy know more about me than any other two people on earth – even EW. (For example, EW didn’t know until recently that I knew almost all the lyrics from all of the songs in Sound of Music. Kathy knew that. Nor does EW know everything I did in college or before I met him. Kathy, Cathy, and I have sworn vows of silence.) Cathy and her husband, Stu, have visited us on the boat in Maine and in Grenada. We hope to see them while we are across the Atlantic, too. This past March, EW and I flew to Florida mainly to get our driver’s licenses in our new home state. We stayed with Cathy and Stu, and Kathy drove nearly 9 hours one way to stay there with us. Cathy let us use her car to take our driver’s test. (Or planned to. We didn’t have to take a test. Woot!) Kathy and Cathy spent a day shopping with me for boat things – not giving up until I had everything on the list. We laughed, we cried, we told stories, drank wine and other beverages, hugged, shared, and loved. They both pretty much dropped everything in order to spend time with us over those five days. I cannot express what that meant to us.
Of our many sailing friends, two couples who stand out from the past year are Jaime and Keith from Kookaburra, and Peter and LeeAnn from Two Much Fun. Jaime and Keith got stuck with us when we moved to a nearby mooring for our 18 months in St.Thomas. When everyone else we knew cleared out for hurricane season, Jaime and Keith became our support system, euchre partners, dominoes competitors, pizza night guests, and weather reviewers. They had already lived in St. Thomas for over a year, and are two of the most helpful, giving, people you could meet.They also love to laugh and are dog saps like we are. Jaime and I walked three miles nearly every weekday at 6, getting to know each other and every nice dog on Honeymoon island. I don’t think I’d have survived St. Thomas without Jaime and Keith. Peter and LeeAnn return to St. Thomas each winter, where they operate their boat for couples only charter. (It is an awesome week. Check them out. LeeAnn is an amazing cook.) Peter is an outstanding musician and excellent teacher. LeeAnn cut our hair (expertly) tried out new recipes on us, and became a wonderful friend while we listened to the guys practice and perform. Thanks to LeeAnn, I’m a Band-Aide, not a Groupie; a Band-Aide has much more status. Peter spent hours and hours over the past three years, helping EW improve as a guitarist and performer. Heck, if it weren’t for Peter, EW wouldn’t be a performer. Peter helped EW live his dream.
In fact, that’s what friends do. They support your dream, listen, learn, provide guidance, a shoulder, perspective, and encouragement. Our friends back home don’t want our lifestyle, but they love us and are thrilled that we are sailing our boat. We are thrilled for them, too – and love to hear about the grandchildren, PhD daughters, new homes on the lake or in Florida, world travel to Paris, and China, moving across the country to hold that grand-son and grand-daughter more often, meeting the man to love forever, sailing in Boston Harbor, and more. Sometimes it feels a bit lopsided because our dream requires help from folks back home. Their support is a tangible thing, whereas we can mostly just listen, learn, advise, love, and admire.
That’s where paying if forward comes in. We can never repay what Jaime and Keith, Peter and LeeAnn, or many other cruisers have done for us. And we can never repay the favors and help we’ve received from our conscripted support system back in the states. They didn’t volunteer for this, but stick with us anyway. We can pay it forward as much as possible, and help other boaters, and help back home – when we can, from a distance. We do what we can under the circumstances. But always, always we are so very thankful for all of our friends. They know our faults, choose to love us anyway, and help whenever possible. We are rich in our friendships. As we finally cross the Atlantic, we know that we are missed and will miss all of them. We also know we’ll meet up again. We have to. They are our friends. And we love every one of them a whole bunch of lots.h
- EW and Jim
- Ed, Lynn, and EW
- Ed, Lynn, and EW walking on St. John
- The most recent of a million photos of me and the two C/Kathys
- EW and Keith with Jenn from Jenn’s Restaurant in St. Thomas.
- Jaime opening a present
- Jaime with the pup
- Kirk, EW and Peter jammin’
- LeeAnn, Peter, and the darling Mimi – saying good-bye the morning we left St. Thomas