The Nature of Community

December 26, 2012

I’ve always been a pay it forward kind of guy. I love helping my friends out and I love to build community.  Every once in a while I ask for help, and every time it’s hard. I don’t fully understand why, but  I do know that I am distinctly averse to receiving generosity. This past week has been a learning experience for me.

It started, I think, when the lights started to flicker. We nursed our failing batteries all the way across the South Pacific but when we got to Bundaberg we just let it go. By the time we arrived in Brisbane they were near dead.   Then a few nights before Christmas, when Ceildyh was over for dinner they died for good. We were eating and making merry and the whole boat went dark and silent. I switched us over to the starter battery and we finished the night with light (but no music). The next morning Evan called to let me know that he could help out with some old (but hopefully not as dead as our batteries). Then the sink fell in…

By the end of the next day we had three previously loved batteries aboard. The following day Krister came over and helped me to completely rewire the battery to panel end of the boat. It was 5+ hours of tedious, knuckle bleeding work, and he was all in, with a smile. As usual, I didn’t want to ask for help, but when I let go of my anxiety and payed attention, I saw that he was delighted to have been asked; delighted just the way I would have been.

On Christmas Eve morning I woke up to 6v. To non-boatie people this means your batteries will never charge again. I called around and found a shop that was open and a price I could handle. All I had to do was get them from Staypleton (60km away) to our boat. I reluctantly called Ceilydh again, and Evan was roused from sleep to help. My heart sank, he had to take a bus to work to borrow a truck and then drive me to and from the battery store. Then, after returning the truck and bussing back, he spent another bunch of hours helping me to install the new batteries. I should mention here that he really knows his stuff and probably saved me half a day of hemming and hawing.

Remember that sink?


Christmas morning. We open presents and start making second coffee. Britannia calls and we invite them over for coffee and Christmas cheer. After opening more presents, and hanging out for a while Vick starts thinking about the rest of the day and realizes that she’s got a lot of cooking to do for the party. Cooking means dishes and dishes means sink. Vick looks like she’s going to cry. The parts I bought to fix it don’t work. Krister jumps right in to brainstorming mode. In a few minutes he’s talked me out of my project-funk enough to realize that the solution is quite simple. They head home and I start working. Then I break the tap in a piece of aluminum bar and it’s off to Ceilydh to borrow a replacement. On the return trip I see Chris (of Tao) and Krister hanging out in the companionway and they, of course, offer to help. At this point I am so glum I can hardly speak. Krister and Chris come over and basically finish the project for me.

That night all of the boat families in our little community (Convivia, Ceilydh, Britannia, Tao, and Mango) met in the park for Christmas dinner. Most of us have known each other for a few weeks and every one of us has helped the other in some significant way in that short time.  As we sat, ate, and laughed I had a moment when I rose above it all and glimpsed the true nature of community.


  1. Comment by Toni Reed

    Toni Reed December 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    So happy for you that lights are now on and sink is working. Sometimes, we get pushed into being amiable with the parts of life that we extoll to others but never want for ourselves. Sorry you were pushed, but look how admirably you rose to the occasion by thanking all those people in a blog post? You are Victoria are truly having an adventure, and sometimes the adventure is not all that fun. That reminds us of when things are great, right?

  2. Comment by Julie Chambers via Facebook

    Julie Chambers via Facebook December 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Beautiful Christmas story.

  3. Comment by Livia & Carol

    Livia & Carol December 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    You were so amazingly helpful to us while we were in SF. I am so very glad you are on the receiving end right now.

  4. Comment by Cindy

    Cindy December 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    (1) This is totally why we stay aboard even when we are not cruising and (2) Evan is the best neighbor to have, we miss them like crazy 🙂 Glad you got everything sorted out.

  5. Comment by Cidnie

    Cidnie December 30, 2012 at 4:53 am

    So glad you have lights, a sink and wonderful neighbors.

  6. Comment by Amanda as a bee

    Amanda as a bee January 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I love the give and take of any close community. Sounds like you have good friends indeed. And also that you have been a good friend to those in need too. Happy New Years Bradfords!

  7. Comment by Jenny g

    Jenny g January 11, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Hey Tucker Sorry to hear of this issue you had at Christmas. If only we had known we could have helped you. You deserve the friends you have found as you too jump in and help at any given chance. Remember my computer in Samoa? Well thanks again for that and call us anytime you need us. Happy to help we are just down the river.

    • Comment by Tucker Bradford

      Tucker Bradford January 16, 2013 at 3:45 am

      Hey Jenny,
      This got caught up in the blog’s spam bin for some reason. It was so great to catch up with you guys the other day. Can’t wait to do it again soon!

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