For Adventures – Go to Windward
“You guys were lucky,” new voyagers say to us, “You got out cruising before there were so many people doing it so it was easy for you to meet local folks.” We can’t disagree completely, when we first set off it was common to be the only foreign flagged cruising boat in an entire country. But even as cruising grew in popularity we found that by going slightly off the normal routes we could still have those special encounters. In fact when we sailed through the Pacific in 2009 we were able to find places where we were the only boat anchored in a lagoon, where local folks were eager to share their daily lives.
We definitely aren’t the only ones who have found this. Just before Thanksgiving Daniel and Michelle Bramwell returned from their third year of cruising around the Pacific on board Evangaline, a Westsail 32. They came ashore for drinks and to share stories of the eight months since they’d last been to see us. “Boy did we have a great time at Niue,” Daniel said. “Highlight of our cruise this year. We were the only boat there, folks ashore were great.” I was a bit surprised by this as Niue, one of the Cook Islands, is right on the favored tradewinds track from Polynesia toward Tonga. “Yup, but we went to Tonga for a while, then late in the season, after most of the cruisers had left the Cook Islands and Tonga was full of cruising boats, we beat back to Niue.”
His experience echoes not only ours but many other long term cruisers. Just as has been the case since cruising sailors began setting off across oceans, the majority of folks stick to main routes and tight schedules. By going off the beaten track, by sailing to windward for a day or two or three you can reach places rarely visited by other cruising sailors. And this is where you will find local folks who see you not as potential customers, but as potential friends.