You’ve got a friend in me

(On Friendships)

A couple months ago, during our hurricane season break, I had the opportunity to attend a get together from my middle school in Brazil and reconnected with friends I had not seen for 30 years. There was a common amazement of how easy and sweet it was to reconnect with peers from such a special period in our lives – like reconnecting with the essence of what we were.

During this event, a friend of mine asked: “What about your kids, what are they going to reconnect with when they are our age? What will they have instead of their middle school class? How do you feel about them not having the opportunity of something this regathering?”   I am not sure my friend made explicit this last question…but for sure it was placed there in my mind.

I immediately went on balancing the trade offs of having the lifestyle we currently have. Yes, they miss a couple of things… and yes, they gain many others. As mostly any decision we take in life, we can’t have it all – there are always pros and cons.

Yet the question remained with me for a couple of weeks…as the “socializing of our kids” was (and still is) one of the most important aspects Alex and I are constantly considering in our boat life. Before we moved to the boat, we looked carefully to what other family boats reported – how kids were able to socialize, find friends and develop connections in any part of the world, while moving. It sounded special but yet uncertain.

with sv Enough in an artist’s shed in Hanavave, Marquesas

 

Now 3 years “on the road” (I mean “sea”), here are some of my perspectives and learning from our experience.

 

Yes, the kids experience isolation from time to time (during long passages or simply when we stay on anchorages by ourselves). And they don’t like it when it is too long. And not matter how much we, parents, try to compensate and be their buddies, we can’t …they need their peers around. As adults need it too :-).

 

On the other hand…the kids also experience strong belonging. The kids connect with other local kids in the places we go. But they need more than than that – they need belongingNot surprisingly, there is an adorable community of kids living on boats, and they easily connect and relate to each other experiences. We became “hunters” of boats with kids – through social media and emails we always learn about other boats with kids coming into the region… We plan our routes and trips to maximize the time for the kids being together.

Meeting with our friends from sv Sangvind in Tonga. Again, after the Sea of Cortez, La Cruz and French Polynesia.

 

They are open to engage and cherish friendships. From experiencing moments of isolation and constant change, the kids deeply understand the value of cherishing friendships. They have learned to be more accepting and they engage pretty easily with other kids from 6 to 16 years old (our are currently 11 and 13). Many times they have played together without talking the same language. They enthusiastically receive each other every time they reconnect.

Not all is perfect. There are differences from time to time, but there is willingness to work them around as well.

Experiencing working at the restaurant Ballena Blanca in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, MX

 

They don’t waste time. It is amazing – when we stop in an anchorage and spot a “new” kid in another boat, it does not take more than 5 min for the kids to jump into the water and start playing together. Sleepovers will most likely happen in the same day…. And its lovely to note that all parents are invested so much as we are in creating space and opportunities for them to be together. It is different from the rhythm and pace it takes to build strong relationships at land….as we are all aware we can’t waste time as we are not sure how long we will be sharing the same anchorage.

Playing a board game with sv Muktuk in Daniel’s Bay, Marquesas

 

They get the full pack of relationships – the good and the bad. As I said before, it is not all rosy. There are challenges from time to time: emotions get in the way, there are misunderstandings and we need to support them in dealing with certain situations… And I consider that healthy and needed – we grow through relationships.

 

At the end, they develop strong bonds. A few months ago, I remember us doing a land trip and as I spotted some kids around, I instantly said to Paulo, “Don’t you want to go to play with them?” to which he responded: “Mom, I don’t need more friends, I just want to meet the ones I already have”. I confess it gave me confidence to hear that from my son. He finds himself plenty of friends, he has this precious treasure (and he just wants more time with them).

Getting ready to hike to the top of a volcano in Colima, MX with sv Enough

 

Luckily since we left La Cruz in Mexico, some vessels like ‘Enough’ and ‘Sangvind’ have been a recurring beloved company. A few others we have met frequently and hope to meet again in the seas soon – ‘Coastal Drifter’, ‘Terrapin’, ‘Cape D’ and ‘Muktuk’. A few others like ‘Sarita’, ‘Adagio’, ‘Day Break’, ‘KantaAnae’, ‘Shawnigan’, ‘Bateau’, ‘Nogal’, ‘YOLO’, ‘Agamere’ and ‘Dulce Vida’ – where extremely present at some point in our journey and have now followed different routes. There is excitement with new friendship with ‘Be and Be’ and ‘Skylark’.

All of them are part of our extended sailing family and we hold deeply in our hearts. The kids constantly talk about them and I consider them their mid school network.

If I go back to my friend’s question that trigged this writing, I would say with confidence that they have a very special class of mid school friends to remember and cherish for growing up together!! I have no doubts they will carry some strong friendships for life out of this experience. Of course, it might be a bit challenging for getting all of them together, but …Come on! It took us more than 30 years to reunite with colleagues that lived in the same city (some even in the same neighborhood)! I am sure they would cross and ocean for theirs.

 

Waiting for a Panga (water taxi) in Barra de Navidad, MX with friends from sv Enough, sv Yolo and sv Coastal Drifter

 

A boatload of boat kids in Mexico. Sailing Vessels represented here are: Pesto, Terrapin, Enough , Yolo and Cape D

 

Another boatload of kids, this time with sv Nogal and sv Enough in Hanavave, Marquesas

 

With sv Coastal Drifter in San Diego, CA

 

Playing with dolls with sv Shawnigan

 

Playing Heads Up with friends from sv Terrapin

 

Sleepover at the front cabin with friends from sv Agamere and sv Shawnigan

 

Some serious make-up in the making in Mexico – with sv Sarita and sv Shawnigan

 

Playing mini golf with sv Skylark and sv Be And Be in Niue

 

With sv Adagio and sv Sangvind in La Paz, MX

 

With sv Daybreak, and sv Dulce Vida and others in Taiohae, Marquesas

 

Visiting Museo de la Ballena in la Paz, MX with sv Coastal Drifter and Plane-to-Sea

 

Having a lifetime experience in Marina La Cruz, MX

 

Niue Images Showcase 2

<This is the third and last post in a series covering our stay in the island nation of Niue, in the South Pacific. Click here to access the first post in the series>

This post is a continuation of the image showcase we started yesterday, covering our stay in the tiny island nation of Niue. Don’t miss the short video at the end of this post:

During our second day in Niue, we drove to the northern tip of the island
The visitor guide promised beautiful views of the open ocean. We weren’t disappointed
Here is my belle !
The outriggers of Niue are smaller and more rustic than the ones we’ve seen in French Poly and the Cooks
After all the spelunking, swimming and sightseeing, we were ready for a meal and headed back to Alofi
The place had a mini golf ….
… as well as a privileged view to the harbor where Pesto was moored
We stayed ashore until after dark. And when we came to our dinghies, this was the view at the wharf
Here’s the crew of s/v Skylark getting ready to go home. The street light was just faint, and the water is 6-meter deep at the wharf. These are seriously clear waters, folks !
The next – and last – day, we made it a point to NOT depart Niue without swimming in those crystalline waters
And here is why !

We also shot a short video while swimming and snorkeling. Hope you enjoy:

THANK YOU for following our journey !

Niue Images Showcase 1

<This is the second in a series of three posts covering our stay in the island nation of Niue, in the South Pacific>

This post complements the one we published yesterday about our short-and-yet-great stay in the tiny island nation of Niue.

Clearing in, with the friendly Customs, Health and Immigrations officials aboard Pesto
The Yacht Club has almost as many members as the entire population of Niue (c. 1,600). They provide great service to mariners, including excellent moorings at the harbor
A lush tree at the center of Niue’s capital: Alofi
And a beautiful drawing of a tree inside Niue’s Yacht Club
Alofi’s main street at mid-day on Friday. Busy.
On the second day, we rented a car to drive around the island
The first chasm we visited led to a wide cave. Pretty cool.
Opportunity for a selfie.
The next stop was “Limu Pools” – basically a pond of crystalline waters
When you see waters like these, well … you PLUNGE
Adriana and Raquel living the hard life in Limu Pools

 

Stay tuned for the next – and last – post on this series. Hint: we added a short video to it !

Bliss in Oblivion

<This is the first in a series of three posts covering our stay in the island nation of Niue, in the South Pacific. Click here to access the next post in the series>

Niue was the second – and last – stop in our 1,200 mile transit between Tahiti and Neiafu. More than just a stopover, it was expected to be a highlight of this year’s cruising season for us. Normally I am very weary about Expectations. Ours were pretty high of Niue. And we weren’t disappointed AT ALL.

Cruisers rave about Niue. Most of our friends who came this way last year also raved about it. We really wanted to visit !

Niue is a small, tiny island-nation. A limestone rock formation that emerges almost vertically from the ocean’s bottom, 5,000 meters below, and then tops off no more than 60 meters above sea-level. There are no beaches, no coral reef lagoon surrounding it, no lush mountains, and the only available anchorage is an open roadstead in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.

And yet, it is enchanting !

To start with, its people are the friendliest we have ever met. And I really mean EVER. One day we stopped at a house to ask for information and its residents invited us in, served us with soft drinks and baked potatoes, and then took us in their car to find what we were looking for.

Then, what the island’s coast lacks in the form of beaches, is compensated by its many chasms. Indentations along the limestone coast featuring different attractions – from caves to salt and fresh water ponds – most of which are well accessible to be explored and enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

And then, there is the ocean. Precisely because it is a roadstead, the water in the harbor is as clear as it gets. Pesto was moored on 100ft deep waters, and we could still see all features of the bottom from our deck.

As soon as we arrived, we were fascinated by the place, and went fully into enjoyment mode. The day of arrival we spent the morning clearing-in into the country, and in the afternoon we rented a car. The second day we used the car to visit a few chasms, driving along the northern side of the island. Our plans were building for the upcoming days – including more chasms on the southern side, a dance-fair at a nearby village, and maybe even a scuba dive in those incredibly clear waters. However, a casual conversation with other cruisers during lunch that day (the Second) reminded me of the need to monitor the weather constantly.

Indeed, since everything looked fine around us, I ceased downloading weather info for those 48 hours, not realizing that something was brewing over Australia’s desert. A strong weather system that would travel across the western Pacific Ocean, bringing Westerly Winds to Niue early the following week. The anchorage is fully exposed to the West, and we were not keen on taking chances. In order to avoid bad weather, we would have to depart Niue the following day – what would have been our Third there – so that we could reach safe harbor in the Kingdon of Tonga before the weather reached there. Decision made.

So, instead of visiting around, as we had wished and planned for, our third day in Niue was spent mostly preparing for the passage: returning the car, a few last-minute groceries, and clearing-out of the country. We did, however, set aside time to snorkell around Pesto, and take advantage of those waters. And it was AWESOME. Indeed, the most transparent water we had ever been in. And we are quite spoilt on that matter already ! It was simply fascinating to see the kids do their evolutions in that ethereal matter – it looked as though they were flying.

And then, crowning our experience in Niue, we swam to a place were Sea Snakes started to show up around us. We had seen them on arrival, and even though slightly frightened, we really wanted to swim close to these animals – their brilliant, black-and white 1-meter bodies swirling and shinning with the sunlight under those crystalline waters. It was only afterwards that we learned these are among the world’s most poisonous animals ….

And so ended our stay in Niue. We’d waited over a month in Tahiti for the right weather. Then again another 18 days in Rarotonga. And then Weather only allowed us two and a half days there. But our stay was great. Blissful. And, in retrospect, I’m glad we weren’t aware of the incoming bad weather during our first two days, otherwise our enjoyment might have been tainted with anxiety. Likewise, it was better to know of the beautiful snakes’ venomous potential after we had enjoyed their beauty.

As short as it was, it was a pleasant-most time, and now we also rave about Niue !

Rarotonga Wrap Up

Rarotonga was our first stop during our 1,200-mile transit from Tahiti, in French Polynesia, to Neiafu, in the Kingdom of Tonga, where we currently are. It took us four days to cover 600 miles of ocean in what was a high-charged passage.

Upon arrival, when I was clearing in with local officials, I mentioned we planned to stay for up to 10 days. The customs guys said it was a lot. We ended up staying 18, pinned down by the weather.

Despite the bouncy harbor, we were very pleased with our visit of Rarotonga. For starters, we were the first Cook-Islands Flagged cruising vessel to ever call it there, and were received accordingly by the MCI team. As small and remote that this Island is, we also managed to meet with a few Brazilians, with whom we made good friendships. Moreover, the island is a gem – nice people, good food, and beautiful places to visit. And when the weather kept us in the cabin, we took the opportunity to advance with homeschooling.

Well, I will let the pictures complement and wrap up this story:

Raquel enjoying a stack of nuggets for a snack
The Cooks even brew their own beer. And it stands with dignity beside their international brethren, like the Kiwi Steinlager, also quite ubiquitous here
In typical Polynesian fare, the roosters and chicken are free-range, everywhere. We found them to be particularly daring here, walking among patrons of a local restaurant
Walking along Rarotonga’s main waterfront
Being interviewed by the MCI Team
Taking the opportunity of being “overdressed” for the interview to take some selfies
Avatiu harbor at dusk. We shared it with everything, from other cruising yachts to fishing boats, touring boats, inflatable water toys, cargo ships and military vessels
The Tiare Taporo holds a place of its own in the harbor. As tired as it is, she still holds the charm of the olden days
Why make it big if you can keep it small? The impossibly cute office of Customs at the harbor
Loading up on provisions for the upcoming passage to Niue
The label peeled off, but the ketchup still goes up for sale. Nothing is wasted in these resource-stricken islands
Adriana at Muri Beach
Living the hard life in the Muri Lagoon