By Alexandra Morrin
Living on a boat means that your surroundings change often, and this makes keeping friends a challenge. Sometimes we might stay in an anchorage for as long as a month or only for one night, and we are constantly meeting and saying good-bye to friends.
This means that having a way to maintain contact between cruiser kids is critical. Thankfully we have today’s technology such as iMessage and email, assuming we can “borrow” a good Internet signal from some cafe or hotel ashore. We also use the VHF radio as our personal phone, the only problem being that every other boat within a 10-mile radius can hear your conversation. We get around this by having secret channels that only our circle of friends use, so I just have to say ‘switch’ and that way no one can listen to my conversation.
When my family moves to a new location, the first thing my sister Kathryn and I usually do is hop in the dinghy to go meet the other kids in the anchorage. We also make new friends at social events, beach volleyball or through other boats. Once we meet kids we like, we subtly (or maybe not) direct the Captain to destinations where our new friends are headed, so we can meet up. Sometimes we arrive in an anchorage to discover friends we haven’t seen in months, and this usually leads to cocktails and lots of catching up. The kids quickly head to our cabins to hang out and talk about where we have been and what we have done since we were last together.
Unlike at home, our cruiser-kid play dates include wake-boarding, volleyball, going to the beach, going swimming, tubing and playing every possible game we can make up on the stand-up paddle-board. In the evening our group likes to play a lot of card games such as Uno, Presidents & Bum, 21 (using M&Ms for gambling) over hot chocolate. We also have movie nights when the adults are having cocktails and yapping. Kids laugh because our mothers always talk about homeschooling and their children, while our fathers talk about boats, boat repairs and the weather in the Caribbean.
As far as friend-making goes, I’m pretty fast.
Because we are moving all of the time we sometimes go for weeks without meeting new people, and its always exciting when we run into a kid boat that we know, but haven’t seen for a while. Sometimes if we are traveling with another boat, all the kids pile onto one boat, and we get to spend the afternoon chatting and playing games.
One thing my parents make my sister and me to do is hike and explore new islands. Long hikes, short hikes, flat hikes, steep hikes…. lots of hikes! For us kids, though, its way more fun if our friends come along so we have someone to talk to.
Our friends vary in age from about 6-16, and the best thing is that no one cares where you come from, what you wear and what language you speak We have met kids from France, Israel, America, Argentina, Spain, South Africa as well as Canada, and everyone gets along perfectly.
Some of our favourite friends walk on four paws and live in the Grenadian SPCA. Unfortunately we do not speak or understand Rasta-dog but that didn’t prevent us being friends. The puppies were very cute and came in all different sizes. We would volunteer to walk the dogs with other kids and enjoyed the time while it lasted.
Some people might be surprised but we cruiser kids don’t actually go to the beach that often. At the beginning of my adventure, it was all I wanted to do, but after a year or so it starts to be more a “been-there-done-that kind of thing”, unless there is an absolutely amazing beach with crystal blue waters. I have become very particular about my beaches!
When we are out of contact with our friends, Kathryn and I read non-stop. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Darkest Minds, and The Maze Runner are just a few of the books that we read to fill the time when my friends are not near us. If we like the book a lot, when we get together we will swap the best ones.
This is an amazing experience for my family and me, and although I miss my friends back home, it’s fun to meet new kids from all over the world. Although I can’t wait to go back to Canada, I know that I am going to miss this wandering gypsy lifestyle.