SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Coconut Telegraph Meets Social Media

January 12, 2015

We are a long way from home. After nearly a decade in the Caribbean, we returned to the mainland a few years ago and haven't yet made our way back. (Grandbabies will do that to you.) But to our great surprise and pleasure, when we need them the most, our Caribbean friends are still right there.

When we lived in the islands, we were continually amazed by the efficiency and accuracy of the coconut telegraph. When we wanted to buy our son a small boat for Christmas one year, within three days of first mentioning it to a friend the entire island of St. Croix knew about it, except our son. And if we ever needed to find one of the boys before their curfew, a few inquiries on the boardwalk would point us in the right direction. We'd usually find them in the park, trying to turn a game of flag football into another trip to the emergency room. But now, so far away in distance and time, we thought the powers of the coconut telegraph were lost to us. Enter social media.


Coral Bay, St. John, USVI

Dave needed some information from a boat designer/builder who wanders around the islands on his sailboat. The last we had heard, he was in Carriacou, but how to reach him? He has no Facebook account, no website, not even an email address. But we did know someone who probably knew someone who could help.

When our oldest son went to college I had to open a Facebook account. Not to spy, necessarily. But he is not known for his communication skills, so once a week we would go to the internet shop and verify that Nicholas was still alive. Now we have three grown boys, a daughter-in-law and a grandson to keep track of long distance. And hundreds of friends in the Caribbean.

I sent the word out via Facebook on Tuesday. A friend we had met 11 years ago in Virginia and since shared anchorages with in the Caribbean knew where the designer had been seen a few months previously. She was anchored in St. John, but had a friend in Carriacou, whom she emailed. By Friday I had the exact location and, better yet, phone number of a man whom we've never met, anchored in a bay with no access to internet, on an island I've never visited. We even learned that he's gearing up for his 74th birthday bash on island. When we call him, I have no doubt that he will be expecting us. Someone probably told him we were looking for him.

It's nice to know that we can still use the coconut telegraph even from this far away. It still works, but at this distance, its speed increases greatly when you combine it with social media. But somehow it doesn't feel the same as walking down the beach and asking, "Has anyone seen...?"

I'm starting to get that overwhelmed feeling. The one that hits me when I'm faced with 600 cans that I have to hide on a 34-foot boat. Which is similar to the feeling I get when looking at the to-do list to get back to the Caribbean. MONDAY we'll talk about how we keep focused when a task begins to overwhelm us.

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