While sailing you make friends. Our tiny boat ‘Coco’ is in a different place every day and we meet new people everywhere. Sometimes resulting in friendship for life, sometimes short and fleeting, but always special. While sailing you also say goodbye every time. You say goodbye to your brand new friends and acquaintances and you don’t know if you will ever see them again. Just like with Kees.
It is our first hike on Leros. We are busy trying to find our way just outside of Temenia, the village next to Evros Marina, when a woman calls us from her garden to invite us for coffee. Although this is very common in Greece, it remains something special for us as ‘down-to-earth Dutchies’. Of course we say ‘yes’.
We drink coffee and eat the traditional New Year’s cake baked by the daughter of the house. We talk about life: children, working, living, sailing. About Greece and the Netherlands. About dogs. We exchange names and telephone numbers, take pictures and continue our walk with the remains of the cake in our backpack. Although it’s unlikely that we’ll ever meet again, we cherish a dear memory.
The marina on Leros has become a lot quieter during the time that we have been in the Netherlands, but never completely abandoned. A few ships are still inhabited and on the hard a couple is staying in a camper next to their boat. Allthough it’s quiet, winter is the best time to make friends. All tourists and part-time liveaboards have returned back home and we are left with like-minded people. We meet Magpie and Jamie, an English couple who, just like us, are busy doing chores on their yacht. They are moored two berths further on the other side of the jetty. Suddenly we have good neighbors. Even friends maybe. From chats and haircutting sessions on the jetty to long and fun sundowners.
For them too this was a long time ago and it makes us all happy. But sooner than expected we have to say goodbye again. We find the price that the marina charges us to stay for another month way too high. So we leave again leaving our new friends behind. “See you in Suriname!” we say the evening before our departure, full of optimism about reaching our shared dream destination, but all four of us secretly know that the chance of an actual reunion is a longshot.
The next day we sail away just before sunrise for the 40 nautical miles to Ormos Marathokampou on the island of Samos. It takes us just over eight hours. An unforgettable welcome awaits us there. Ruud, who told us about this port on Facebook, is already waiting for us with his girlfriend Annette and Manolis, the Greek neighbor. Half an hour later we are all in the car on our way to Platanos, a village high in the mountains. Along the way we are treated to panoramic views to both sides of Samos. Luckily Manolis reserved a table for us, because ‘The Lion of Platanos’ is fully booked. The live music, on which a man dances gracefully, drowns out the buzz of people talking, eating and drinking. Food trays keep coming from the kitchen at breakneck speed. The wine from Samos also flows abundantly. It’s cozy. We are making new friends again. It feels good.
A few days later, Ruud and Annette are at our boat to introduce their new friend, who has no name yet. It is a young dog they’ve found squeaking in front of their catamaran. Maybe she was put there by someone, maybe she’s born on the street and came by herself. Everyone of course immediately falls for her charms. Who can leave such a sweet little doggy alone? People on Facebook also know exactly how to handle this and have got their opinion ready: of course Kees, as she is named a few days later (after the female Kees from the Dutch ‘Flodder’ movies), has to stay with Ruud and Annette. I am guilty of it myself too. Well, those who can’t do, criticize… Raising a young dog on your boat is a bit more complicated than ‘just doing it’. There are all sorts of consequences attached to it. It provides Ruud and Annette with the necessary brain crushing and while they are still thinking about what to do, they secretly become attached to Kees. A few times Kees seems to be leaving by herself. She runs after what is probably her mother on the beach, but comes back when Ron calls her name. A few young Germans who see her on the beach a few days earlier also instantly fall in love and would like to take her in. At first it seems to die down, but a few days later they get in touch again and come to pick up Kees a few days later. Now it’s Kees who’s leaving, leaving us all melancholic. Ruud in particular has a hard time with it. No more Kees who falls asleep on the couch with him after dinner. No more getting up early for a morning round with Kees in dressing gown and slippers. But the most important thing is that Kees gets a good home and that seems to be the case here.
As a sailor, you do not leave once, you leave every day. You say goodbye to friends and family in your home port when you take off for the first time and after that over and over again. You arrive and depart in every port. You meet friends and say goodbye in every place. And one time it hurts more than the other. Like with Kees. But maybe we will see her again sometime …