The cool thing about living in Annapolis is that sooner or later, everyone who cruises this part of the world comes through here, and our new friends Brittany and Scott were no exception. I had met Brittany online at one of my sailing forums and through her wonderful blog. It's a great story: they met racing sailboats in Lake Michigan a few years ago, got married this summer, and started off from Chicago to sail their boat around the world. After emailing back and forth for months, we got the chance to meet in person this week as they passed through Annapolis on their way south. We had a long, giggle-filled dinner at Boatyard Bar & Grill in Eastport with them and another couple, Jay and Nicole, who they'll be traveling with. We shared sea stories and tales of the Great Lakes where they - and we, originally - were from. We fondly remembered the "Sweetwater Sea," as the Lakes are nicknamed, where the sailing was easy with clear fresh water, no tides, and no currents.
This is something I've noticed about cruiser friendships: they seem to come almost instantly to an intensity that takes years to develop in land-based friendships. Maybe its because we have that built-in interest in common about traveling and living on a boat; maybe its a characteristic of people who go for the gusto in life to live aboard to begin with; maybe you have to accelerate the pace of getting to know someone else because you know you'll only cross paths for a short time. Whatever it is, it was in full force as we traded histories and future plans. In between conversations about weddings and boats and what the towns we remember from our time in Lake Michigan look like now, we tried to give them as much of a heads-up as we could on things that we learned last year about the waterway from Annapolis to Miami, across the Gulf Stream, and through the central Bahamas. We talked about our own adventures on the trip we had recently finished, that they were just beginning. We talked about big important stuff like how to sail safely and comfortably across the Gulf Stream, and - since they'd previously sailed only in fresh water - trivial but useful tips like how to protect your padlocks from seizing up in the salt water (thereby locking you out of your own boat!) by oiling them. We talked about local customs and courtesies, anchoring tips, which towns were our favorites, which were boater-friendly, where to find a great mechanic, how to clear Customs and Immigration, budgets and what things to stock up on before leaving the U.S. By the end of the evening, my brain hurt - although to be really honest, I don't know if it was from trying to remember all the tips and tricks, or maybe it was from the beer?
One of my favorite truisms is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When it comes to ideas, I guess the sincerest form of flattery to the person that gave you the idea, is to pass it on. I remembered how much help our own sailing mentors - David and James and Ellen - had been, and how impossibly in their debt we felt. We were awed at how much they knew and how overwhelmed we felt, we could never learn it all... which, I guess, is how we made poor Brittany and Scott feel by the end of the evening. A month from now, I wonder what they'll make of all the random unorganized information we dumped on them?
You can never pay your mentor back. All you can do, is pay it forward.