Finding Friends Afloat

One of many things that has not gone the way we thought it would (Does anything, ever!) is connecting with other cruising families. There will be lots of families doing the same thing as us, kids naturally make friends easily, making new friends will be easy peasy lemon squeezy, we thought. (ha) By the time we got to Dominica Paloma was getting pretty desperate for playmates, she was not related to. In Portsmouth, when ever a new boat came in, Paloma would race on to the deck with the binoculars checking for signs of anyone under 14, and then checking the flag to see if they speak English. She has gotten very good at identifying country flags. She roped Ronan in and had him on VHS asking if anyone wanted to play Uno. We totally struck out.  The only thing standing between us and mutiny is that Paloma is able to skype her friend Marlon in NY on the weekends

When we arrived in Martinique we noticed two boys fishing off their yacht, they looked about the right ages. When we dinghied by and waved, they waved back, (a good sign. The French do not wave), then we saw the Australian flag on the boat. Eureka! This could totally work. We bumped into them the next day at the tourist office. After  the clumsy opening line of “ Are you the Australians?”,  we learned that they’re the Dunstans, Matt, Rachel, Alexander aged 9 and Nicholas aged 8. They have been living aboard their vessel, Orchid, since August. (You can read about their adventures here) They’re heading north as we head south. We were ships passing in ST. Pierre. We made plans to meet up the next day to celebrate Australia day/ my birthday.

We took a hike with them the next day, up the hill and down past the Madonna and into the butterfly garden (the back way.) By the time we got to the garden everyone was to busy talking to really notice the butterflies, despite my lame cries of “look butterflies”, every few moments. The Papillion garden is a funny, eco education and culture center. We sampled their organic fruit while the kids made jewelry out of traditional seeds, like the Caribe Indians, assisted by groovy young Parisian dudes (modern life can be very culturally confusing, not that I would have it any other way. My own fair haired boy is currently torn between having his hair in dreads, like Bob or corn rows, like the Karate Kid).  The guy running the garden was worried about us walking back to town along the busy road, so he gave us a lift, to the kids delight, in back of his pick up, because it was so much (ahem) safer.

That night we celebrated with champagne, good food, chocolate catastrophe, and good company. Nicholas made me a card and gave me the necklace he had made at the butterfly garden. A sweet and generous gesture from anyone, but from a eight year old boy, you just met, it’s melt your heart through your chest stuff.

The next day Alexander was not feeling well, which I’m sure had nothing to do with the chocolate or the past one am bedtime. The kids did manage to cram in some more playing and watched The Nutty Professor on our entrainment center (the salon curtains.) We all swapped books. We gave each other the highlights to look out for and the things to skip as we head where the other has been. The next morning as Orchid pulled out into the sunrise, heading to Dominica, we had lost our naïveté about the ease of finding friends along our journey but had gained a sweet appreciation of it, when we find it.


About the Author