Nine of Cups was here! It's kind of nice to be able to leave some reminder of the fact that Nine of Cups and crew has visited a certain place or called at a foreign port.
Several times we've been asked to sign a visitor's books. As mundane as it sounds, signing a Visitor's Book in some places takes a lot of thought. Other cruisers have signed in unique and artistic ways, so just writing “Nine of Cups was here” doesn't cut it. It requires creativity and imagination and we're always challenged to come up with something distinctive. We can't whip out little water colored scenes or sketch great photos of the boat like some cruisers we know. We revert to colored pencils, stick figures, miscellaneous stuff around the boat and sometimes a glue stick to get the job accomplished.
There are a couple of places where cruisers have been leaving their mark for decades. Our first experience with this was Booboo Hill in the Exumas, Bahamas. The hill is the highest point on the island and it is the custom for visiting yachties to leave a sign or relic with their boat name. It's quite the sight and definitely requires a contribution.
Probably the most out of the way, hidden place for leaving your mark is Caleta Connor in Patagonia. Here in the midst of dense foliage and constant rain stands the arbol notable (remarkable tree) where hundreds of cruisers have left their signs attached to the tree. We have no idea when this started or why, but we were prepared for this exercise and David had carved a Nine of Cups sign in advance out of an old maple breadboard. We rowed ashore in the pelting rain and looked for the perfect spot to place our sign. We recognized many boat names and opted to put ours just below that of good friends, Pen Azen.
Over a decade ago, we sailed east and north along Maine's rugged, ragged coast to the Mount Desert Island area. It's a place of incredible beauty and in our travels we sailed across from the island to the mainland and picked up a free mooring in Sorrento Harbor. The mooring was marked with a simple wooden float carved with the words “ Robert M. Lewis … He cruised …”, an elegant reminder that a sailor in the past was thinking about sailors to follow in his path. We used his mooring and raised a toast to him at sundown that evening.
On the same trip, we stopped at Maine's remote Monhegan Island where purportedly the Vikings explored in the first century. They left runes etched on a rock now marked with a big “X” at nearby Manana Island. So obviously leaving your mark is a very “human” thing to do. Think of those caves in France and Spain with drawings that date back to the last Ice Age.
When we visited Pompey's Pillar National Monument last summer in Montana, we saw William Clark's name (of Lewis & Clark fame) carved into the side of the huge rock formation beside the marks of Native Americans and other travelers who had passed by. I believe today, this would be called graffiti.
In some places, we leave just footprints and only take away photos and memories.