In order to separate the flesh of a fresh conch from its bone it is important to make a hole in its shell one ring in from the outside at an angle the same as 2 o’clock on a clock’s face – Valois taught us that. Similarly, when laying a second anchor in a storm, you can attach the chain to your bow cleat and set the anchor by going in a dinghy away from your boat – Asmat told us that. Or, when necessary, you can jury rig a shore power electrical connection without an adaptor by putting the bare wire ends into the terminal – which is the way that Jean-Louis does it.


To a few experts this must sound like simple advice that solves numerous varied problems faced by yachtsmen. For us novices to the life we are overjoyed that all of these impromptu answers have been provided by unlikely friends that we’ve met at marinas or anchorages. You see, a long-term cruiser spends the vast majority of his or her time fixing problems on their boats. We are not just sailors but self-taught mechanics, engineers, plumbers and electricians who spend our days adding to this wealth of knowledge that very few people but ourselves are interested in.


So, I now understand that the vast majority of cruisers have had many an issue that causes much head scratching and, in exasperation, they have resorted to asking the chap on the boat next door; this is how we learn the things that we cannot teach ourselves. But, this is a sort of legacy, as everyone we meet, and apologetically ask favours from, has learned their skills in this same way.


Perhaps we shall one day be the salty sea dogs that we aspire to being and have questions asked of us so that we can help our neighbouring sailors.


However, until that day, I must get back to Val, from the boat Giva, who is helping us with our SSB radio.