Living on a tropical island and working on a sailboat for a living can seem like a fairytale to most people. Visiting exotic beaches, uninhabited islands and pristine snorkel spots everyday might sound more like a vacation than a vocation. To our guests, our lifestyle can be confusing, hard to comprehend or hard to accept; “So you’re telling me this is your job?!”
Some people who come out with us have never stepped foot on a boat before. The questions they ask may seem obvious, but genuine questions about an activity you’ve never attempted before are perfectly acceptable. The place where we start to lose people is when common sense goes out the window or when the questions are laced with a mean spirit.
Both occur frequently, sometimes simultaneously. I have compiled a short list of some of the all time most inexplicable tourist questions that I have received to date. Many of these prove that there actually IS such a thing as a bad question.
1. “Can we fill up bottles with all the different colors of the water?”
Why this is a bad question:Water is clear. Yes, in our beautiful waters, certain areas appear turquoise and some dark blue – but this has nothing to do with the actual color of the water it has to do with depth and/or objects under water. When we are in shallow area, the water looks turquoise because light is reflecting off of the white sand. In deeper areas it appears darker. You cannot bottle these colors. It’s just not possible. (I do have a blue gatorade though…)
2. “How do the airline pilots find these islands if they’re always moving?”
Why this is a bad question: Islands are actually connected to the earth. Yes, tectonic plates shift – but the movement is minute, and happens all over the world – not just under islands. This question was frequently asked in one form or another while living in the Virgin Islands. When I moved to Hawaii, I was shocked to realize that this question of drifting islands is just as common here. It seems that people may have watched too much Lost.
3. “Do the whales swim under the island to the other side?”
Why this is a bad question: Refer to previous point. Islands do not just float on the surface of the water. There’s no anchor chain attached to the bottom. They are just as connected to the earth as any other continent. I’ve also been asked if there was any way for humans to scuba dive under the island to the other side. This question makes my brain hurt.
4. “So, do you ‘live’ here?”
Why this is a bad question: How else would I have a job here? You seem to be aware that the boat does not leave this island, so do you think that I commute each morning from the mainland? Do you think that I came on vacation, and was randomly selected to be your tour guide, historian, naturalist and snorkel instructor during my stay here? How does this look in your mind? I’m genuinely curious.
5. “Don’t you get bored doing this? I mean, I would just die of boredom!”
Why this is a bad question: I often want to ask what they do for a living – because I would probably just die of boredom. My favorite is when they add in, “oh sure Hawaii (St John, Antigua, etc.) is great for a vacation, but gosh I would HATE living here!” Sure, immersing yourself in nature everyday might not be the right fit for everyone, but I certainly wouldn’t come to your office and say something like that! These people are usually the negative type; miserable with their own day-to-day routines and on a mission to bring others down.
6. (To My Boss) “So you built this boat? Did you build this screw?”
Why this is a bad question: In general, that’s not how construction works on boats or on land. The accusatory tone of this question was also a factor in adding this doozy to the list. Yes, he built the boat. No, he didn’t build the screw. Is that supposed to discredit his abilities?
8. “Are there sharks in the water?”
Why this is a bad question: Because sharks don’t live on land. You are in the middle of the ocean; of course there are sharks in the water. Sometimes we lie about this fact to young kids, but it’s really a silly question to ask.
9. “Can you get us any closer to the sunset?”
Why this is a bad question: Well, the sun sets on the horizon. Though some may call me a goddess, I am actually just a mere mortal; I do not posses enough power to bring the sun any closer. I really don’t know what I should say or do here, but I feel like I just lost a tip.
10. “Why do you guys put the sails up? Is that just to save money on gas?”
Why this is a bad question: Because you just don’t get it! I told this particular woman that we actually put the sails up because we love sailing. She continued with, “Why do you love sailing? It seems like we’re moving slower now.” People like this will just never understand.
While we have all experienced challenging guests who ask ridiculous questions, the vast majority of people who come out on our charters are extremely intelligent, fun loving, kick-ass people. Even the ones who ask silly questions provide us with entertainment and stories to share.
Have you ever experienced any of these questions? What are the most ridiculous questions you have ever been asked while living on an island or working on a boat?