I was reading Women Who Sail on FaceBook the other day and one woman who was just beginning her sailing adventure asked “How do you meet people?” She was concerned that since she's a bit of an introvert, it would be hard to meet people when constantly sailing into new and unfamiliar ports. She got an overwhelming response … all positive.
Quick answer: It's easy … you can't avoid meeting new people!
There are so many ways to meet people when you're sailing into a new port that it's hard to enumerate them all. Here are some tips.
- Check out the anchorage for familiar flying burgees to identify other boats that belong to your club, like SSCA or OCC and for instance.
- Knock on a hull. When we arrive in a new anchorage, if we're in the mood for socializing, we dinghy around to other boats to introduce ourselves and say hi … maybe invite folks aboard for sundowners. If we don't make the effort to knock on hulls, it's not unlikely that someone will knock on ours with the same intent.
- If you're in a marina or head to shore in the dinghy, there's always someone on the dock to chat with. It doesn't take much to start up a conversation.
- Listen to the local morning net if there is one and find out what's happening in the area. There's nothing like an evening potluck get-together or a rousing game of dominoes to introduce yourself to new folks.
- If you're a SailBlogger, you can check on-line to see who is close to you and make the effort to get in touch.
Interestingly enough, however, most of the responses were targeted at meeting other cruisers, not the locals. Though we enjoy meeting other cruisers, quite honestly, we could do that anywhere. If cultural experience and local interaction is what you're searching for, you might have to wander a little farther than the local dinghy dock.
- Make an effort to visit the local yacht club, community center, tourist info office, and/or the local chandlery to see what's going on and what you might become involved in. If none of these exist, try the school. Teachers are always interested in showing off their classes and usually welcome newcomers with open arms.
- Determine if your club or organization sponsors a cruising host or port host in the area and contact them for an introduction to the area, as well as an immediate local contact.
- The local fresh market is a great place to meet people since everyone turns out for this social community event. Chat up the green grocer and other customers. Ask about veggies and fruits that are new to you. A conversation will start up almost immediately.
- Got a special skill? Know how to fix solar panels, generators, etc? The more remote you get, the harder it is for locals to find help for maintaining and/or repairing equipment. If you offer your services, you can be assured of a warm response and many thanks from your new local friends.
- Just walk through town, smile and say hi. Interact with the community. When people find out you're from “the boat anchored out there”, you're bound to attract local attention.
We've found in our experience, locals were as interested in meeting us as we were in meeting them. It's not a one-way street by any means. They, too, are curious and happy to share their hospitality and cultural differences.