The 90-day rule

Call it destiny, kismet, karma or good juju. Maybe it's just being in the right place at the right time. We call it the 90-day rule for lack of something better. It's not really a rule, it's an....occurrence, I guess you'd call it … a chance event....always fortuitous. Early on, we didn't recognize it as anything more than being lucky. After 13 years, we think it's definitely a serendipitous pattern that's repeated itself so regularly over the years, we now call it a rule and we expect it to happen. We patiently wait for it and we're never disappointed. Here's a sampling. We were anchored off St. Kitts in the Caribbean taking an island tour with a local guide. We stopped at a little restaurant at Fort St. George for a beer and a snack. A Swiss couple was also there. We started chatting. They were there only because they had to take their dog to the vet and were killing time while the dog was being tended to. We spent well over an hour with them, our guide becoming somewhat irritated at our reluctance to move on. They invited us to their plantation home on the nearby island of Nevis. We accepted and stayed with them for three outstanding days...perfect strangers, now good friends.

While sailing up the Rio Tuira, Panama's longest river, we were anchored off the tiny town of LaPuntita when a Canadian fellow kayaked by to chat. We expressed interest in heading into the Darien Jungle interior and he told us that a young indigenous Wounaan-Emberra couple with whom he was living, was heading to a remote village and we could probably ride with them. Sure enough, for the price of a tank of gasoline and a fresh fish to share for lunch, we accompanied Amelio and Diana in their motorized dugout canoe to the remote village of Mogue. Diana was pregnant and traditionally, the maternal grandmother delivers her daughter's baby. We were here to collect grandma. We shared lunch in a thatch hut on stilts, watched Diana's uncle finish carving a dugout canoe and took a tour into the deep jungle to view a harpy eagle nest. How lucky can you possibly get?

While in La Libertad, Ecuador just before heading to the Galapagos Islands, we decided, along with our crew mate, John, to enjoy a special pre-departure dinner in nearby Ballenita at the Farallon Dillon restaurant. People came and went, but we started chatting with a pleasant woman who turned out to be the owner of the restaurant. When she invited us upstairs to her sitting room for the best view of the sunset, we were thrilled. We'd seen some pretty outstanding sunsets, but this sunset was beyond outstanding. It was later on that evening while discussing our good luck with John, that we realized that this was not a singular occurrence, it happened fairly regularly. We coined it “the 90-day rule” and it has continued to astonish us.

At Easter Island, we were anchored off the main port of Hanga Roa. The Port Captain's office hailed one day, asking for our bearing and range from his office in preparation for the arrival of a navy vessel. We complied, of course, but were rather surprised when not too much later, a Chilean naval submarine anchored next to us. So close, in fact, they could read the labels in my underwear that were hanging on the lifelines to dry. We had to raise anchor and move. Subsequently, we were invited aboard the sub for a tour, got to view Cups through their periscope, were given bottles of fine Chilean cabernet sauvignon and were treated royally for the remainder of our stay at Easter Island. Just for being in the right place at the right time.

We met a good Peruano friend, Gonzalo, because he read a small blurb about us in Cruising World and sent us an email. We were in Ecuador at the time and when we decided to backpack through Peru, we gave him a call when we arrived in Lima. We met and we clicked. He took us home to dinner. We ate at fantastic restaurants with him and his wife, Magdala, including Club Nacional, a gathering place for Lima's elite; so exclusive in fact, the Cups crew really had no business being there. We went on tours with Gonzalo's family. We picnicked, visited national parks, attended birthday parties and even had dinner at his Mom's on Sunday. We quickly became part of his family. Gonzalo was a life saver when it came time for dealing with Peruvian Customs and Immigration on our departure.

How do you account for the fact that he happened to read that tiny little blurb in an American sailing magazine and sent us an email? Serendipity? The 90-day rule!

To be continued...