Our dock mates come from all over. Currently we have Cuba Joe from Chicago, Ron and Terry from Pennsylvania, Sue and Paul from Halifax, NS, Sparky (Ron) from. . .geeze I have no idea. Ron and Kathy from Durham, British Chris from – yup, England, Izak and Hanna from Texas, Amy and Scott from Baltimore – well you get the idea. And what on earth do they do?
Many are retired, some still working in fields from truck driving and tour boat captaining to rocket scientist. Programmers, electrical engineers, business owners, home builders and just about anything else one can imagine. So think about it – when we get together there is NEVER a dull moment. Everyone has a story, after all how did we all end up here? And the stories never end. Nested in all that hob-gobble of humanity are some incredible skills.
Engineers who can trouble shoot an autopilot that only turns left. Mechanics who understand fuel pressure and return line routing. Marketing gurus who can help when someone needs a bit of advertising done. Fit and finish fanatics who have years of experience maintaining the ever needy bright work (varnished exterior wood.) Prop professionals, travel agents, insurance agents, country music recording artists, attorneys and more.
Of course, most of the banter is about – boats. Gas vs. diesel, planing hull, displacement, (full or semi) wing keel, full keel, swing keel (I think that’s a sailboat with bigger parties.) We talk about wood finishes, fuel additives, chart plotters and radar. Galley up or galley down? Keeping the water fresh, fighting mold and how on earth do you keep that fiberglass so shiny?!
The most fascinating discussions always evolve into “where have you been?” We are after all, boaters, sailors, navigators and adventurers. Our dockmates have sailed their boats to the Mediteranean and dined in back alley eateries in Istanbul. Trips from Africa to Brazil, and throughout Europe are fascinating to hear about. They’ve been to Cuba and listened to the local chatter about their daily challenges. Of course the Caribbean is a hot topic.
Everyone wants to go and many have been throughout the West Indies, Haiti, Aruba, Costa Rica, Belize and on and on. We hang on every word. Some day we’ll cast off for the Caribbean, taking our time and soaking it all in. Hearing about the crystal clear water, the solitude of anchoring out behind a tiny uninhabited island is like a drug making us beg for more. Our own trip through the Great American Loop is unique among our group. This gives us something to share most will never do. But no matter the voyage, no matter the vessel all the stories are real. The people the challenges the excitement is all very romantic to each of us hearing of somewhere new.
But the best part of marina life is the food. Think about it. When we get together for a meal at the marina there is a serious competition going on. This isn’t the block party where Mary always brings cheesy potatoes. Oh no. This is a dozen cooks going all out with their A game at every event. There is no runoff or season finals – this is the Super Bowl of Food every time we break bread as a group. And for added challenge, no two events are ever the same.
We may be grilling fresh fish with ten side dishes one day or enjoying prime rib slow roasted for a holiday. The side dishes could be a main course anywhere else. Yes – the big event is the food. No one eats like marina dwellers. Then there’s the drinks. I’ve never seen or heard of so many customized drinks before. From non-alcoholic punches to home made brews there’s never a dull get together. Recipes are traded, crockery full of leftovers mixed and matched until we often wonder if we’ll ever actually have our own cookware all back on board again.
. . .and then there’s desert. I’m cursed in that I live in a gourmet bakery. Jan belongs to Bakers Anonymous. OK, it’s a one person group, but she seriously has a problem. She can’t go 24 hours without picking up a mixer and lining up bowls. Her treats get shared up and down the dock – mostly because if we don’t share, we risk the neighbors mobbing the boat. Think about living next to a bakery every single day. The smells, the treats. . .I’ll never wear a speedo again.
Evenings often begin with a casual “come on over” as we pass on the dock. It often melds into he said she said “hey, they are having a get together.” The result is Docktails. Sometimes just lawn chairs on the dock. Other times we move onboard someone’s boat and take over the outdoor living spaces enjoying a sunset and the friendly banter. One evening was a full blown seafood boil, right on the dock. The food is endless and always uniquely tasty. To be honest, the social part of this lifestyle becomes much more than parties or dinners. We all love to chat – but sometimes a boater needs more. We are each confidants, nurses and cheerleaders to each other.
Because, we all have rough spots. Someone is down on their luck or in a tight spot. Often nothing has even been said. “You need a lift somewhere?” will come out of the blue. “Here’s a meal, we had plenty left over.” When family issues rise up to challenge us, there is always someone to offer support. After all, we all have families. Need a ride to Greenville for a doctor appointment? Several offers will come in plenty of time. It’s not just a community. We’re more like kinfolk. We’ve found that true in other marinas we’ve been in. Each marina has it’s own personality. Each has a unique staff and a unique family of mariners all living the dream.
This is how we Eat Life.