A lot of things are NOT easier when you live on a boat. You’re schlepping stuff up and down the dock (groceries, laundry). You have to be hyper-careful of hair going down the shower drain because the sump pump REALLY likes to clog (the commode is way worse, but we won’t speak of THAT). You don’t have much space for things like clothes, books, shoes.
But one thing that is decidedly NOT harder on a boat is making friends. Boat people tend to be a lively, social lot. Dock parties, impromptu dinners, group dog walks enliven marina life.
And today, as I was returning to the boat after running an errand, a boat neighbor offered me his dog-wash set up to scrub down Boat Dog. This neighbor had just finished “running a bath” for his own lovely pooch and offered me a chance to use the doggie bath, shampoo, and hose setup for Boat Dog’s ablutions. So Boat Dog and I had a spontaneous spa evening, and now the little dude is fresh and soft. It was just one of those neighborly moments that sets boat life apart—because, as I dried Boat Dog, I got to hear stories of whale watching on the Baja Peninsula and RVing in Mexico. On land, I tend to be pretty social with people, but I’m not sure I’ve ever talked whale watching with a neighbor while sitting on the ground [on a dock] in the setting sun.
This sort of neighborliness comes out with books, too. Most marinas have a book-exchange shelf somewhere. Ours is no different, and neighbors often save books for one another and make specific exchanges. I love trading books. Now, I often trade with my land people, but it’s the same idea: that unique “thing” that binds friends. C.S. Lewis hits on this shared-passion aspect of friendship in The Four Loves. Through Read Local (R), Bernice Ende’s Lady Longrider found multiple readers ... and Bernice found multiple new fans. Empire of the Summer Moon already has its next reader since I know someone with whom I really want to discuss the book and she’s quite game to check it out.
But getting back to C.S. Lewis.... He uses the Greek word philia for the friendship bond, a bond that tends to thrive on shared interests, common values, and shared activities. In The Four Loves, he touches on the nature of friendship as a choice, something unnecessary to propagate the race, something above instinct. As he points out, it may be a rare gift. But in certain spheres, one can experience it more readily, and I count myself lucky to circulate in a few worlds rich in it.