Tsamaya. Snowbird. Unicorn. Zero to Cruising. These have been our sailing companions since February as we have made our way from Florida down the island chain of the eastern Caribbean to Grenada. We have never traveled together as a group, yet I think of us as one. Our five vessels have continually headed south, ever mindful of hurricane season and our urgent need to put more miles behind us and reach the relative safety of 12 degrees north.
My husband Mike, my daughter Mikayla and I first met Snowbird and Unicorn in the Bahamas, when they stepped aboard our catamaran, Happy Times. Snowbird’s Johanna and Martin beamed about their passage through the turquoise waters. Hakan and Anna-Karin, who have been sailing Unicorn for six years, described their adventures as they traveled along Suriname’s coast and attended a tribal wedding.
We met Janice and Bob of Tsamaya in George Town. Janice offered a reassuring voice in the night via VHF radio as together we crossed the Mayaguana Passage and shared our locations.
In French Cay, a remote bird sanctuary, we dined with Mike and Rebecca of Zero to Cruising. They led our departure from South Caicos through pounding sea and wisely detoured to a more comfortable crossing.
Over the ensuing months, we shared birthdays and anniversaries, weather reports, local knowledge, and numerous sundowners, the traditional cocktail party of the cruising community. We survived squalls, 30-knot winds and eight-foot seas, overnight passages, and boat repairs.
Most of all, we shared a friendship that lasted close to 4000 nautical miles and seven months.
I didn’t expect such companionship would exist or even last when my family began our adventure. Yet I have learned that when sailors throw off their bowlines, as Mark Twain suggests, they tie them to one another.