Over the years we’ve been voyaging, we’ve occasionally heard from people who accuse cruisers of being parasites—wandering the globe without giving back. And, yes, we’ve run across some cruisers like that. We call them “user cruisers”. They come into town, take from the generous locals (sometimes from people who have less than them), and then leave, all the time complaining about how economically poor they (the cruisers) are.
John and I try very hard not to be “user cruisers”. However, according to one friend in Norway, we are sometimes too much the other way. She said that by choosing a community to stop at, we voyagers make that community feel special and worthwhile and our arrival brings a breath of fresh air—novelty, interest, news from elsewhere—and so people want to give us something in return. By being too independent, we deprive people of the chance to share with us. So we’re working on getting that balance right!
The other day we heard from Tassio, who has commented on the site a few times, and I wandered over to their website. Tassio and Claudia are a young couple who have managed to buy and outfit a boat (it wasn’t easy) and are now voyaging, with the goals of creating art, living sustainably, and spreading happiness. But, Tassio says, in order to spread happiness, you have to be happy.
And that in turn reminded me of what our friend in Norway said. So if voyaging brings you happiness, then, as long as you extend that happiness to others and give what you can (tours of the boat, reciprocal dinners, a small thank you gift), I believe that you are giving back—i.e. making the world a better place, even if in a very small way—and you aren’t a “user cruiser”.
The photograph is of Phyllis with Arne and Gunhild, our dear friends who live in Tromsø, Norway, where we spent two winters. They gave us skiing lessons, took us to their back country hut, and introduced us to the joys and pains of aquavit. We took them sailing for the first time in their lives. The result—a friendship that will last a lifetime.
How do you give back? Please leave a comment.