I knew that once we moved aboard our boat in the Caribbean, more friends would visit us from Canada than had ever visited me in my 16 years in Ghana. That wasn’t difficult, as precisely zero friends ever came to visit.
Between the distance, travel costs and immunizations needed from a tropical disease clinic, I’m not surprised we had so few visitors. Ghana was too exotic.
We’ve been on the boat in Grenada now for just over a month. And we’ve had our first visitor.
I knew that it would be fun. Grenada is a beautiful country. But I was nervous that our ‘boat life’ would be strange and the living quarters would be small and awkward for a landlubber. And I now believe it.
Everything about life aboard that was and is new for us, we embrace as a choice, but as a visitor, it’s not always the case.
We’ve already started to take for granted the dinghy rides at night, out around a peak. From the perspective of a newcomer, straight off an airplane, this ride can be terrifying. Pitch dark, rolling, rough as we head directly into what looks like the abyss. The imagination goes wild.
“Are there sharks?!”
“Are there life jackets on this dinghy?!”
No. And no. But is this the welcome our guests are looking for? We see Shiloh in the distance, but it’s a journey across an ocean to a newcomer. And when we finally motor up to the sugar scoops that serve as a landing point, Shiloh rocks and shakes us as we hand the luggage up the steps.
We sit and chat, but the friend is slightly green and hot and the tour of the boat and rum punches will have to wait. The only solution is drugs (Gravol tablets) and their accompanying thick molasses sleep.
Each day has been an adventure and we’ve had some great times. Grenada has not disappointed. But has our new lifestyle?
Everyone from afar thinks we’re ‘living the life’, that we are lucky and a bit crazy, but when it comes down to the day in/day out, the reality of dinghy-as-car, being at the mercy of the weather, filling water tanks ashore just to shower, running the generator daily to have light, reading while the horizon pitches in and out of view, well … that’s a different story.
Now that I’ve seen it all from the eyes of someone else, someone who hasn’t dreamed of this life and planned toward it for years, I realise it might not be most people’s dream. It requires sacrifice of routine and comforts. It requires a passion and patience and a love of the unconventional.
This is not a warning to those who would and will come to join us. It is a reality check for me. I promise to seek out and share the best of the islands where we make our temporary home. They are idyllic and there are glimpses of paradise all around.
What I can’t promise is that you will love the boat life; that sailing will charm and lure you.
It’s a lifestyle option that rewards us and brings the world to those who make that choice. For those who aren't sailors and are on holiday from their own daily grind, maybe it’s too exotic. Definitely hotels promise a much more stable breakfast table!