Most years as an adult, I have lived in at least three-storey apartment buildings. While they usually provide affordable housing close to the city centre, it is one of the more anonymous ways of living. On several occasions, it has taken me several years before I actually met and said hi to the people living on the same floor (maybe it is a Swedish thing, or maybe it’s the architecture?). It would be very uncommon to get invited over to your neighbor and end up as close friends.
This is not the case in Belfast Harbour Marina.
Ever since we arrived we have been welcomed by the community of boat owners here at the harbour. One of the great things with having a boat is that there is a sense of “pay-it-forward” philosophy in helping each other out. Everyone who owns a boat, sailing boats maybe in particular, knows that sooner or later something will happen where you will need help. It can be when approaching the jetty in a new harbour, if you have an accident at sea, when something broke and you need to find spare parts in a foreign place… the list is long. This sense of awareness that we will all need a helping hand at some point makes the boating community a friendly space. After these two months in Belfast I think we are both great believers in paying it forward.
Our friends at the harbour have helped us by driving us around Belfast and beyond to get building material, groceries and going to the ship chandlery. We have lent tools, got the perfect screws or drills when ours broke, or a just an extra helping hand. They have helped us order things online, lent a bike for shopping or a bed at their boat when we did paint jobs with toxic paint. We have got some nice carpets to cover the cool walls beside the bunks and material that decrease the risk of getting humidity under the mattress. And then all the small things that makes all the difference in the comfort of living, such as borrowing a de-humidifier or an extra spotlight that makes it easier to take advantage of the long evenings.
You can find all types of people in a harbour, and probably a greater variety than in the usual circle of friends. In this harbour you can meet an entrepreneur, a retired professor, a firefighter, a tv-producer, people who own a chocolate factory, working with reparations on an oil rig or writing on their first play. Some spend a lot of their free-time on their boat – doing repairs and projects or just to get away and relax. Some people we haven’t seen since we got invited to the Christmas dinner that took place just a week after we arrived. One thing is for sure, people here sure knows how to party and have a good time!
We will most definitely miss having this community around us when we move on and head south. It is a nice feeling walking down the jetty and greeting everyone you meet by name, getting invited over for some lunch or a night cap once in a while and forget about the renovation mess on the boat. They have made sure to show us the Ulster hospitality both in the harbour and taking us out to the countryside. Jens has even adopted some of the dialect/expressions from here, “just having a wee walk before tea time”… 😉
So before we leave we would just like to say a big THANK YOU to all the friendly people in Belfast Harbour Marina. The best place to get stuck! 🙂
Now we will show Jens parents around town during the weekend, then keep the fingers crossed we will find a suitable window of preferable winds to head south again.