Last night about an hour before sunset I heard a boat named Q-Wave call on the radio looking for advice for entering the harbour. We passed Q-Wave, at sea, about five weeks ago, and while we knew they had been having problems, we had no idea they were still out there. But they were. And 47 days after leaving Nuevo Vallarta--after a trip where the generator that ran their electric engine died, and their batteries failed to hold a charge, and running out of water (another boat rendezvoused with them a few weeks ago to give them water) and food, and having chainplate bolts sheer through, and having all manner of things that could possibly go wrong, go wrong--they were limping into harbour.
Evan & Maia and a few other dinghies headed out to tow the boat in through the dying evening breeze into harbour. With Ev & Maia I sent a care package of homemade chicken stew, jugs of water, tins of pop and beer, and a pile of local fruit. Ev reported the two aboard were exhausted and past being able to think clearly—but clearly grateful to be here and genuinely moved by the help that came their way.
One of the coolest aspects of the cruising community is the way people maintain the old maritime traditions of aiding a fellow boater in need. If you need a bolt (or have lost your rudder) a call on the radio will almost always bring assistance.
Almost always. In the past few months we have heard far too many calls for help answered in silence--including a 'Pan-Pan'--where a cruiser was badly injured when the prop he was diving on was accidently put into gear (our friends on Bluemoon went to render first aid and then the crew went to shore and used a phonebox to call for additonal help...)
This is one of the more significant changes we have seen in the past 15-years of cruising. The circle of people willing to lend a hand has begun to shrink. It tends to be the same people who answer the radio calls and go out of their way to render assistance.
I’m not sure of the all the reasons our community is changing but, in broad strokes, the people who lend a hand tend to either be long term cruisers (who have probably been at the receiving end of a helping hand) or confirmed DIY types (the kind of people who know how to fix stuff or aren’t afraid to try). This leaves a bunch of people who sit quietly and listen. Maybe they don’t feel skilled enough to help, or maybe they figure someone else will answer first. But I have to say something is lost when someone calls for assistance on the radio and no one responds.
Fortunately boats did respond to Q-Wave. And an hour after sunset their 47-day voyage was over…