It was Malcolm’s fault. He’s the cox of Come Boating!’s rowing program. Malcolm Gater is deeply steeped in the tradition of the Cornish Pilot gigs used by Come Boating!, Station Maine, and the other gig programs up and down the coast. He also has deep ties to Cornwall itself. It was he who arranged for the Cornish rowers to join us in Maine last fall. This year it was our turn to fly to Cornwall and row in the waters and tradition from which all our programs are born.

More splendid hospitality was never offered a guest, much less the more than a dozen Maine rowers who flew to Cornwall. Adults from Come Boating! were made welcome in various homes of rowing club members. The young people of Station Maine’s crew were housed together in the Seaman’s Chapel, right on the beach, in the center of Newquay, in the middle of the action.

There were, of course, almost daily opportunities to row the splendid Cornish gigs with our hosts. Some were very old and traditionally built. Some were plastic with traditional lines, seamlessly joining past technology with the present very active community sport. There were towns and castles and festivals and museums and historical sites to explore. And races. And celebrations. There were new friendships to form and old friendships to renew, differences and commonalities to discuss. It seemed as if all of Cornwall rose to the single task of making our stay a pleasant one.

Governments of every age on every continent have had their differences. There have always been borders to protect and wars to be fought. But more and more the people of each nation are rising up to cry “enough.” We are each of us in our own way forming alliances to bind our towns and regions and countries. Gig rowing is only one of a thousand ways to find commonality with those of other countries.

This is the world that the young ambassadors of Station Maine will inherit. Exchanges like this with the Newquay Rowers and Belfast’s Come Boating! are a way to bring about the world we all believe in.

Come Boating! in Belfast and Station Maine in Rockland welcome new members. Check out comeboating.org or stationmaine.org for details.