It’s a Small Boat World

Sometime it's shocking how small the cruising community feels.

January 22, 2013

Del Viento- Canada (thumb)

Michael Robertson

The girls have been writing up a storm: letters and postcards to friends and family. They love receiving responses, but there is another motivation: “Does this count for school, Dad?”

“You bet,” and off I went to the Black Ball ferry terminal, hoping to find a courier willing to drop off our U.S.-stamped mail in Port Angeles, WA. When none of the passengers I queried last time were willing to take our mail, the ship’s purser, Pat, saved the day.

This time I’d only stepped through the door when I caught sight of Pat at the other side of the terminal, his arm outstretched to receive our mail.


“Hey, thank you, my daughter sure appreciates this.”

“It’s not a problem, your daughter is a friend of Zada.”

I was dumbfounded, trying to think of a response. Eleanor does indeed have a boat friend she met in Mexico named Zada, aboard Eyoni. But he couldn’t mean…


Pat continued, “I thumbed through the mail last time, noticed a letter to Zada Smith, there can’t be that many Zada Smiths—her grandpa works on this ferry.”

“No way. Are we talking about the same Zada? She’s a little girl, lives on a boat in Mexico? That’s where we met her, before we sailed up here.”

I headed back to Del Viento to share this story with Windy, amazed once again how small the cruising/boating community is (in this case, including ferry boats).


Outside the marina showers, there is a boaters’ book exchange. I’m always looking for interesting reads for myself and the girls. Inside one children’s book I noticed an inscription: “Amy Boren.”

Wow, I know that name! Amy is a kid on Third Day, she and her family spent four years in Mexico. And here was her cast-off book, having journeyed all the way up the coast, from one kid boat to another. So incongruous to see it here!

“You’re not going to believe this.” I held up the book so Windy could see. “I found this in the book exchange. Guess where it’s from!”


“That’s Amy Boren’s book, we picked it up in La Paz. Eleanor just finished it, why are you bringing it back aboard?”


I__n our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at


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