Many ladies I talk to are worried about leaving behind their social life for cruising life. From what I have read and heard first hand, there is quite a lot of social life for cruisers. I have found that one of the best decisions we made was moving to a more social marina before going cruising.
We recently moved from a large city marina with single, fixed, finger docks to a smaller marina with floating docks. Best move ever! Since floating docks are attached there are main arteries and fingers to traverse. People who have slips on the fingers walk to the main arteries and then eventually, to the parking lot or marina office. Sort of like living in a neighborhood as opposed to a single street with one outlet. Your only choice is how much social scene you want to have. When we are at the marina we have a lot of choices for non-boating as well as boating entertainment….and not one of these requires a television.
In this environment, we have already met quite a few people who are already cruising (transients in our marina), people who are in transition toward cruising (like ourselves), live-a-board boaters and weekend boaters.
When we decided to move to a different marina we drove over to scope out slips. We decided we wanted to be on a main artery where we would have foot traffic from the finger docks. We wanted to be on Main Street, if you will. We have met so many nice people just by being in our new location. Yes, the old saying holds true… “Location, location, location”.
This might be harder to write than to understand, but the best part of marina life is that people just stop by and chat. Imagine that? People will stop by for a few minutes on their way to other places and chat for a few minutes and then they are on their way again. It is a wonderful way to meet new people, hear the latest and just have some comradery during the day or evening without a lot of fuss. You do get this with single, fixed docks but with floating dock set up, we see more foot traffic equating to more nice people we get to meet.
Since boaters tend to sit in their cockpits it is equivalent to sitting on the front porch. Remember watching on TV or reading in books (or maybe if you grew up in a small town or neighborhood you actually remember this happening) when people used to sit on their front porches in the evening? People would go out for walks in their neighborhoods or along the sidewalks after dinner and while they strolled along they would stop here and there to chat with others who were out walking or sitting on their front porch. Some marinas have the same sort of activity. People stroll along in the evening or during the day to look at other boats or to get a bit of exercise after dinner or they are just on their way down the dock. They occasionally stop to chat or maybe sit for a drink and then they are on their way again.
In our life back in the big city, we have to schedule weeks in advance to see friends, we get all gussied up to go out and there are usually tickets or reservations involved. All in order to have some comradery. We spend the evening driving out to some agreed upon place only to be rushed along by hurried wait staff or time constraints of tickets or babysitters. If we don’t go out to meet, our comradery is through phone chats (yes, we middle aged folks still use phones for talking), email or text. All in a big rush for countless reason it is always a big rush. With boat life, all you have to do is go out on your “front porch” wine glass (beer bottle) in hand and get to know your neighbors and fellow boaters casually and without a lot of fuss. I swear an open wine bottle or cold beer being opened on a boat is like a duck call in the wild.
In our big city life people pass by almost touching without a glance or word. In marina life it is considered rude not to say hello as you pass or at the very least exchange a head nod. Now, I can only speak of marinas in the southern part of the USA as those are the only marinas we’ve visited thus far but so far the environment is the same: friendly. My best guess is that there are factors involved such as salt air, relaxation, common bond of boating…etc.
Whatever the reason for the more relaxed, friendly atmosphere, I like it. I feel that I have people I can turn to for help with boat lines, people we can bounce boat questions off or people who will sit for a nice unplanned drink on the boat with us. I like that we can walk down the dock to help a fellow boater or have a nice night at a local restaurant complaining about boat repairs with friends. It is not a bad life.
I think I just heard a wine bottle being opened somewhere in the distance. Time to grab my glass and go for a walk.