Since we arrived at anchor, the girls have lived outside. They have swung from the halyards and splashed noisily in the water. They eat on deck, read on deck, and generally spent every moment they can in the open air.
Why? Not because we are finally somewhere warm(ish). Not to escape Dad pulling up the floorboards (which only happened twice.) No. Their loud, obvious presence was a beacon, a signal fire: We’re Here. Come Play With Us.
Finally, that call was answered. A dinghy putted over containing rare treasure: three girls aged nine, seven and five. (Plus their parents, but since when do they count?) The girls had seen the swinging display, and insisted on immediate delivery to our boat. The family was on their way to run some errands, but the girls swarmed Papillon for long enough to become fast friends.
One of the major challenges of cruising with kids is finding friends their own age – and keeping them around. Some days I feel as though there are only a couple of dozen “kid boats” spread around the world, and we’ve always just missed the last one. So when we find another compatible family, everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
For the rest of the day – like clockwork – Indy pestered. “Is it time to go to their boat? We should call them. I think we should go to their boat now.”
“Honey,” I said, “they had things to do. We’ll go by tomorrow.”
Little did I know that a similar drama was playing out two hundred meters away. The other girls were watching our boat through binoculars, hoping Indy and Stylish were going to come by. But, as usual, all of the parents in this play were too dumb to do what the kids wanted.
The next morning, the girls and I stopped by on our way to the grocery store. I was hoping to make a date for later in the afternoon, once school and chores were complete. But their new friends swooped Indy and Stylish off the dinghy so quickly that I was left clutching the gunwales and trying to get my balance.
Today, they all ran off to the beach. I managed to get in a morning of school first, but I could see that their minds were already on their schemes for the day. As they should be. Friends are precious, especially when they sail away so soon. I hope they enjoy these days.
Because Indy and Stylish will be stuck with their dumb parents again soon enough.