There's nowt so queer as folk

But of course it's folk that make the world go round and also make our trip that much more interesting. Here are a few little stories which brighten up any dull day.

We were chatting with some cruisers a while ago discussing the different anchoring styles and bemoaning the ones who obviously like the look of the spot at which you're anchored as they come as close as possible – even though there is a large bay full of empty space. The responses ranged from giving them the evil eye to shouting abuse. One lady from Louisiana (who wouldn't have looked out of place sitting in a rocking chair knitting, with a cat by her slippered feet) said “Oh I just go to the bow and shout Too close - back off mother ………!” and I really can't repeat what she said but I've never seen so many jaws drop before a hail of laughter.

There are quite a number of Canadians around the Caribbean – allegedly to escape the cold Canadian winters. Leona tells the story of when they first started to live aboard in Canada – she had met up with some other cruisers and they were telling her how great life was aboard – a little later in the evening she overheard one woman turn to the other and say “Did I tell you I woke up this morning with my hair frozen to the hull?” Little wonder they're all in the Caribbean !

In Tobago and Trinidad we met quite a few South African cruisers – great to be reminded of the little bits of Afrikaans which we learnt when we lived there. Alan's a bit of an inventor - when he broke his ankle and didn't like the strapping the Venezuelan hospital put on he made his own cast from fibre glass – the consultant at the hospital was most impressed! Marita, very much a party animal, has a play list on her Ipod for every different occasion. Larry the braai master – on arriving at a new place immediately does a recce to find a suitable beach on which to have a braai. Marlo – gentle and caring – always has a bag of bones for strays (stray dogs that is – well usually anyway). Having a bad ‘day in the bilges' a couple of weeks ago, Larry shouted loudly that he'd sell Beatrice (the boat) to the first person who would care to make him an offer – Marlo said she sat cringing on her seat on the gas bottles at the back of the boat smoking fag after fag fearing that her home was going to go to the lowest bidder! There are days like that for most of us I guess!

We've met several cruisers who have built their own boats – these people I really have to admire – not only built them but go on to sail and live on them – my skills at making anything amount to perhaps a dress which I'm then afraid to wear in case it falls apart! One Canadian couple spent 20 years building their boat – Inspiration Lady. Jackie said when they first started she might have had 2 circumnavigations in her but she thought she was probably now down to one – definitely a well named boat. Ken and Glenis from Goole took 9 years to build their concrete boat and have been living on her on and off for the last 20 years. They're now cruising the Caribbean before taking the boat back to Portugal where they might stay for a while – Glenis told us that she couldn't see herself settled in a house for a good few years yet – they're both in their late 60's – fantastic. In contrast Chris (American) took only 9 months to build Hogfish – his own design – but has been living on it with his wife and 2 daughters for 10 years now. He's one of these creative characters and a very skilled craftsman who can turn his hand to most anything. Dorothy and Duncan took 5 years to build Hunda – a steel boat in which they've now been cruising for 14 years mostly in the Far East and South Africa – now over in the Caribbean – Dorothy says she keeps looking for a place to settle down but there are still so many places to see………..and so many single handed cruisers to take under her wing!

Our most recent acquaintance is Liam, a quietly spoken Irish, Texan Gentleman – who at 74 years old is still sailing single-handed. I really have to take my hat off to him as he was recently caught in the middle of the night in a squall which ripped off his bow sprit and fore stay – he had to cut his jib free and off load it into the sea. He coped admirably and, not surprisingly, was visibly shaken. After a good nights sleep his spirit came back – “Well yes” he said “I was shaken but it's not put me off.” To be sure, to be sure….

I could go on as the seas seem to be full of these very colourful characters – long may we keep on meeting them and then meeting up with them again in different parts of the world.

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