Thursday, March 24, 2011

Close quarters

     Traveling with people on boats requires sensibilities that do not often challenge us in our normally ordered American lives. This is not unlike living communally in a tropical village of open huts, where every sound our bodies utter, whether voluntary or the result of biological function, is heard by someone else. Living this way breaks the bonds of decorum we hold so dear when the luxury of privacy is available. There are other phenomena as well, closer to our former evolutionary status as cave dwellers, where we simply must care about each other for the sake of our own safety. It does not matter what we personally have in common, it depends little on if we like each other or that we will have forged enough compassion to continue friendships into the future. This part of the human psyche I had not experience before traveling on boats, but I’m sure it can be likened to other situations in life. Miners working deep underground, wilderness explorers, astronauts, people who must bond with each other around the common goal of survival. On the outside, it appears as friendship, but it feels more like a connection to strands of DNA not often exercised in modern life that are most certainly part of our common past. We look out for each other, worry a little when one is too long out of sight and hope for their safe return when we would not do so if they were simply our neighbors going off to work in their car.
     As a phenomenon it comes and goes with the perception of need. When we are no longer in wild places those bonds go as slack as the safety lines that we use when the boat is in in motion and stow when we are once again comfortably tied up in a marina.  Boundaries snap quickly back into place and that sense of caring takes its more usual back seat. I cannot imagine making jokes about bowel movements with people I have known for a short time in any other situation than on a boat where the thin walls of separation for the most private moments do little to ensure them. One can hope these odd circumstances forge friendships, but it does not guarantee it. Boat life is a crash course in what we usually learn to tolerate slowly about others and it helps to take a somewhat anthropological view, if possible, before nerves are frazzled from pushing personal limits. Platonic traveling in this situation on this trip has worked well and I certainly hope the women attached to these two men are not concerned in any regard about my intentions. I am relieved there is no spark of attraction between any of us because it would only add unnecessary tension. My good friends know, I simply love cruising on sailboats. There are good and bad things about both these guys, as with myself, but the presence or lack of those factors contribute purely to the enjoyment and safety of the trip. Traveling on boats with new people is a little like buying a car where you have only been allowed to view the internal workings of the engine from the greasy sludge in the oil pan to the whooshing exhaust from the internal combustion without ever once looking at the beautiful shiny exterior. It would be like forcing yourself to fall in love backwards and I doubt it happens very often. Girls, these boys are yours. And for all the lovers who are new to each other, there are many good reasons not to explore the trepidations first stages of love on a boat.    
p.s. Still unable to upload photos, still waiting out the wind in Bahia Los Frailes. I can get email so feel free to write;

Steve, the captain/owner of Si Bon also keeps a blog;

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