“It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
“Pour me something tall and strong, make it a Hurricane, before I go insane.”
“We’ve got a lot to drink about.”
Living on a sailboat in the Caribbean, we have become intimate with the lyrics of Jimmy Buffet. When Mike and I are alone on the boat, you might find us sitting on the transom singing aloud to “Hurricane”, rum drinks in hand, as the sun slips under the horizon.
Just as often, we are not alone for our Sundowner, and we don’t sing much, as that would be really annoying. We are delighted to converse with other cruisers.
“What do you talk about when you have cocktails with other boats?” my friend asked me the other day. “Politics? Recipes? Gossip?”
It seemed a rather silly question. What do you talk about when you meet a friend for coffee or a glass of wine?
It depends, of course.
The other day, we had drinks with the owners of a 39 foot catamaran. They were from North Dakota. We met the Captain as we were marveling over the availability of Kirkland brand snacks in a surprisingly modern supermarket in Tyrell Bay, on the remote island of Carriacou (country of Grenada). Drinks? Sure! The Admiral would love it (he didn’t have to ask).
We had nothing in common with this couple, except that we were about the same age, and of course, we both live on boats. We learned about their life in a deep red state. We talked about how she lost her first husband in her 40’s, how they met each other because they both farmed sweet white beets (which I had never heard of), and how much she missed her 27 grandchildren (this is not a typo).
The next evening, we had drinks with a couple from Southern England that we met that afternoon. We talked about their support of Brexit. We talked about the insanity of Donald Trump. We talked about vegetarian burger recipes. We talked about which bays they liked and did not like in Grenada, and where they were headed next. We talked about their one daughter, and one granddaughter, whom they didn’t seem to miss at all.
We had many nights of Sundowners with our friends from Park City. Those evenings were mostly politics, politics, and more politics, which is easy to do and delightful when you agree on everything.
We talk about relationships, our kids, what’s broken on the boat, how and where we can fix it. We talk about where you can swim with turtles, where there are nurse sharks, or where to anchor in a harbor one of us has recently visited. We talk about gun violence, which interesting podcasts they have listened to, about a recent great read. I explain why we call our sandals flippy floppies, as we laugh together to the lyrics of “I’m on a boat.”
Sometimes (next to never) it is simply one drink and then off to dinner. More often than not, a Sundowner lasts well past dinner hour. Infrequently, it is seltzer water and lime. It may be beer, or vodka, or gin, or on a rare occasion, it is Mike’s delicious frozen rum concoction*.
But we don’t miss Sundowner time, ever. Sundowner is the time to stop and take notice. Sundowner is the time where we figure out what we have in common with people from foreign lands (like North Dakota). Sundowner is the time where we emerge from our bubble, take a break from polishing the chrome, or force ourselves to get up from a nap. Sundowner time is the time of the green flash (yes, it is real), a time of appreciation, a time of laughter and wonder.
So do Sundowners make us happy?
Yeah, I’d say they make us happy, especially when we are alone and take this Jimmy Buffet song to heart (sorry, kids).
*Here’s Mike’s frozen rum drink recipe for the special Sundowner- amounts are all to taste:
Blend dark rum, coconut rum, mixed fruit juice, frozen bananas, ice.
Then top with freshly grated nutmeg.
Enjoy as the sun is setting.