Issue: September 2004

Ifirst saw the boat as we were heading out on Quill one evening. Weems Creek, where we recently moved, is deep, quiet and protected. And for long-distance cruisers it has one other key enticement- there's a coffee shop, deli, laundry, pharmacy, and grocery and liquor stores an easy walk from the dinghy beach. The creek draws its share of travelers, but this one stood out immediately- wooden, with two stout masts, high freeboard, a bona fide pilothouse and a distinctly European flair and insouciance. Clearly a boat that had been there, done that and could do it again. I liked it as soon as I saw it.

A few nights later I was kayaking around the creek when I skimmed past the visitor and saw someone on deck, reading a book. I debated saying hello. I follow the Golden Rule of Anchoring: "Be not nosy to others as you wish others be not nosy to you." But I was hopelessly curious, so I sidled up-not too close-and greeted him with the question all boatowners love to answer: "Your boat is beautiful. Can you tell me about it?" Turns out he and his wife had been living aboard for six years, cruising for two, traveling from their home in Sweden to the Canary Islands and Azores, then across the Atlantic to Trinidad, the Dominican Republic and throughout the Caribbean. They had come to Annapolis, he said, because it was time to sell the boat-named Kaprifol av Hälsö, after a native Swedish flower-and head home to work for a while. We chatted a bit more, then I paddled home and told Johnny about it.

Next night, Johnny came home on Quill and announced that our new Swedish friends were coming for cocktails on Saturday evening. And he had a grand idea. One wall in our kitchen we call the poetry wall. There are paints and brushes, and anyone so inspired is invited to write there. Why not ask our visitors to write something?

It was a lovely evening. We plied HÃ¥kan and Eva with food and drink and they told us about their travels. The kids brought out their globe and HÃ¥kan showed them where Sweden is, where they sailed across the ocean, all the islands where they and Kaprifol had been. (Later they gave the kids an enormous shell from Grenada.) The kids asked them the important stuff-like whether there was Santa Claus in Sweden, and did they have songs there too?-and I leaned back in the cool dark of the evening and listened to the music of their occasional forays into Swedish when Eva was trying to figure out a particular word or turn of phrase.

It was getting on near eleven o'clock by the time they stood in front of the poetry wall and had a discussion in Swedish about what they'd like to say. Finally, Eva picked up a brush and started writing: "Havet är livets urpsung Dat stord är att vara där med någoman ålskar. The sea is the essence of life. The great thing is to be there with someone you love."

They were the first seafaring nomads to write on our wall, but they won't be the last. It is the Bay's welcoming nature that invites cruisers like HÃ¥kan and Eva to leave the sea and rest a bit in a quiet creek. All it takes is a pretty boat and an open door, and the world may come to you