I spent Wednesday evening packed into a small cafeteria with two hundred other parents. As we listened to Stylish’s principal talk about school rules and signing homework planners, I smiled to myself as I thought of how many similar “welcome to the new school year” talks I’d been to in years gone by. French or English, here or there, every primary school seems to follow the same script. Just the like the birthday party Indy attended the weekend before. Same kids, same moms, same presents, same activities. Except for the language, it was just like home.
A chill ran down my spine as the realization hit me. I am living my old, pre-boat life: staying in one place, husband away working, kids in school, me running the household. Am I even a cruiser anymore?
I started writing this blog back when we first hopped aboard. In the early days, it was a way to update the family on our day-to-day, and to reassure them that our progeny remained safe and whole. (You can guess which task was more important.) As time went by, I wrote more and more about sailing things. Because we were, you know, sailing. I talked about fixing stuff, travelling from place to place, and the funny things that happened along the way. SAILfeed started syndicating the blog, and I got into even more of a sailing mindset. I was writing about the sailing life. As my kids would say: sailing here, sailing there, sailing in our underwear. Everything to do with life on the water.
I have spent the last three and a half years thinking of myself as a cruiser. A person having an adventure with her family, roaming hither and yon, visiting new ports, making new friends, and learning about the exciting and varied world of boat repair. And, without really thinking about it, I build a mental picture of cruisers being people like us.
Which is, of course, ridiculous. Yes, we have been living the “move-along” cruising life. But, when I think carefully about the other live-aboards I’ve met, ours certainly isn’t the only way to cruise. Lots of people like to sail back and forth between two locations, six months here, six months there. Others have their favorite loop. Still others live on the boat in one place and just take weekend jaunts – or none at all. They are still part of the cruising community. They can relate to my generator issues. They know what it is like to be a walking guide to local chandleries and services. They may not be in the game to chase the “new” experience all the time, but they are just as much cruisers as those sailors who are always moving on.
I expect our temporary halt to be, well, temporary. I expect to fix the boat and sail out of here a few months down the road. In the meantime, I am going to make peace with the fact that I have morphed into a different sort of cruiser. I am still having new experiences, but they are mostly related to integrating into a different culture. For the time being, my eyes will be less on the water and more on becoming a part of this place.
So, forgive me sailors. Until we get moving again, I am going to focus on writing about a different aspect of cruising: stopping and integrating into the local culture. I am still a cruiser, but I am learning how to be a different sort. A patient sort. A dying-to-go-sailing-but-I-can’t-so-I’m-going-to-enjoy-this-instead sort. I am going to put our “just roll with it” philosophy to the test.
I’ll get back to chasing the thrill of the open seas, but, in the meantime, I’m glad to have you with me in Noumea.