|Asante and Yolo at anchor together in Chatham Bay. We had it all to ourselves!|
There are plenty of people who scoff at buddy boating as a hindrance (people disagreeing on where they want to go, what they want to see and travel timelines) and even as dangerous (a "group mentality" sometimes brings with it an unwarranted sense of safety when it comes to weather, anchorages, schedules...etc), but for us buddy boating is nothing short of a pleasure. The four of us get along effortlessly, we each have toddlers who are on the same schedule (and also get along famously) and we have pretty much the same cruising agenda. We sort of hit the jackpot over here. In fact, when we had to go our separate ways for a while, Darcy lamented that cruising just wasn't as fun without us and we had to agree. Cruising with friends is more fun. So without further ado, here are ten benefits that we have found while sailing alongside our "buddy boat" s/v YOLO for a total of three months (give or take)...
- Fun is amplified: I have always subscribed to the mindset that life is better when shared. Sure, it's great to cruise with only your partner and/or kid(s). But to be able to share in the trials and tribulations of this lifestyle with peers and friends as well? Even better. We have shared so many wonderful moments with our friends and I believe the fact that we were all together made these moments that much sweeter.
- Help is never far: Both of the men on our boat hold captain's licenses and are very handy, making them pretty adept at all things cruising related. When one of us has a problem - the other is over helping to lend a hand or troubleshoot an issue in a jiffy. Having four heads looking at one problem often leads to a solution quicker than if it were two or one. We have a "no boat left behind" policy and have been known to assist one another with parenting debacles (from rashes to tantrums) as well.
- Neighborly Neighbors: Traveling with another boat means your supplies and provisions are pretty much doubled. If our buddy boat needs some sugar, we loan it. If we need a green pepper, it's ours. Same goes for things like gasoline, diesel, water and boat parts. Whenever we make water - we fill the water tanks of YOLO. Whenever they make a run into town to walk their dog, they take our garbage. They are free to use our paddle board whenever they want and I often hitch rides to shore in their dinghy. When one person dives their anchor, they almost always check the other's. They bring over their portable dvd player to watch movies on in our cockpit and they can use our internet signal when we have one. The list goes on. It's a totally selfless relationship and we very much have subscribed to the "what's mine is yours" sort of mentality (with the exception of husbands and wives...we're not those kind of cruisers, sorry). In a time when people don't really know and love their neighbors quite like they used to, it's rather nice to experience a sense of camaraderie like this.
- Meal times are much more enjoyable: This is one of my favorite aspects of buddy boating - the fact that every meal is a smorgasbord. We eat together almost every single night and we each bring something to the table, literally. Usually one boat makes the main course while the other brings an appetizer or side dish. We switch off every night, which is wonderful for the provisions and the palette. Because we always host on our boat (due to the fact that our cockpit is huge) we also switch off on who does the dishes. It is so much fun and dinner time is always a highlight of the day, never without laughter and good conversation.
- Friends keep things interesting: Speaking of conversation, sometimes when you spend 24/7 with your spouse and your spouse alone, conversation can become a bit tedious. It's easy to fall into a routine of eating a meal together quickly and then retreating to our books and bed with simple snippets of talk throughout. Spending so much time together means that we know what each other did that day and there is little variation to stimulate conversation (books do help this, though). Having friends around always ensures conversation stays fresh, interesting and fun.
- Safety in numbers: After the assault on fellow cruisers the other day, we are all happier than ever to be buddy boating. While it by no means renders us "safe" or "immune" to attack, we do find comfort in the fact that we are there for each other and, should something terrible occur to one of us or our boats, the other would be by our side to assist. We have formulated a plan that involves constant monitoring of the radio (especially over night), air horns, bear spray and the built in security alarm that is YOLO's "attack mut", Izzy (major point for having a dog on board, fyi). No matter what, we will have each other's backs and there is peace of mind in that.
- Excursions are often cheaper: The more people involved in a taxi or tour, the cheaper it is. We have gotten deals on all sorts of things because we split it four ways instead of two and the fact we have super cute babies with us certainly doesn't hurt (kids are, bar none, the greatest ambassadors).
- Quality time with a same sex peer: Let's face it, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. It's cliche, but true. Sometimes we just don't "get" each other and we need to hang out, vent, or just talk to peers of the same sex. Luuck and Scott can go off and spend hours spear fishing, working on boat stuff, or drinking beers while Darcy and I revel in female companionship and conversation. The fact that we are all parents to similar aged toddlers means that we can relate to one another on a whole new level, which is such a relief when we're having those "what the hell is going on?!" days. We revel in the highs and lows of both parenthood and cruising. Misery (and elation) loves company.
- More people bring more ideas to the table: There is no "leader" boat between us, ours is a total egalitarian flotilla. Luuck and Darcy, very well-traveled in their own rights, often open our eyes to different places and experiences while Scott and I, more experienced with "cruising" do the same for them. Along the same lines we each have our own specialties, talents and skills that we bring to the relationship as well. We have all learned so much from each other and every single one of us has benefitted from what the others' bring to the table.
- Intense shared experiences lead to life-long friendships: Buddy boating, when successful, breeds super intense friendships not only because of the intense amount of time spent together (what friends of yours do you spend several hours a day and every meal time with?) but because of the shared experiences. Cruising (like parenthood) is full of high highs and low lows, and being side by side with peers who are with you through the thick and the thin and understand this fact makes for very tight bonds. We consider our little posse more like a family than a friendship, and have already hatched 2, 5 and 10 year plans together (and, of course, our children are getting married!)
Do you buddy boat? What are your experiences, good and bad?