Alumni Reflections: A Different Kind of Immersion
By Ella King
When most people think of a Caribbean adventure they think of the sparkling, blue swells of the ocean and the sunny, blue sky. They think of Scuba Diving: immersing themselves into a sprawling underwater world like no other.
They imagine the crystalline, light blue water cleansing their whole body as they submerge on their first dive. Looking up, they see shimmering light, broken up by the surface chop. The bubbles from their breathing apparatus rise up like flying saucers and finally break the surface. No words are spoken in the serene world, just calm and collected hand motions. Hair no longer settles in its normal position, it moves with the water like a sea fan in a current. The water starts to feel like air. They learn to trust the water and how it holds them. It is all around and they sense its presence.
They think this “wet” is like no other. “I will learn from it and find out something new about myself.”
That is all very true. Getting wet under the waves of a tropical ocean is an experience like no other. But, under the right circumstances you can have a broader experience when you least expect it.
When I went on Broadreach, I went to the Caribbean on a sailing and SCUBA exploration. I was so excited and thought just about what everyone else did, that I would have the greatest experience there, under the waves on a dive. I was correct in many ways. I had great experiences on all my dives, however, one of my most memorable experiences was actually on the second to last day of my trip onboard the deck of the Euphoria.
We woke up bright and early in the morning to haul in the anchor and set sail for St. Martin. It was, in fact, not quite a bright day. It was gray and windy, with lots of sea chop. The long sail was intermittent with squalls bringing on pelting rain and winds up to 75 knots! Because of the conditions the campers were required to stay inside in the galley. Our skipper was hard at work outside, navigating us through the weather.
When a particularly bad squall came through, our skipper needed a few campers along with instructors to come out and help her. I shook myself from my stupor and immediately volunteered. With life jacket and rain gear to protect myself from the wind and rain, I headed out.
It was a different world outside. You could hear the wind howling, and the ropes frantically thwapping. Spray jetted out from the bow of the boat and the rain smacked against every surface it could find. “Head to the main winch and turn it till the line is taught… good, and coming about!” Commands were fired. I reacted. My hands were working furiously. I was focusing and listening for all sound I could hear. People were running about. I finished my task and immediately went to help my friend keep the saturated, slick line from running away. It was a battle that, like any other, had to be fought together in order to win.
Eventually, the squall faded and we could loosen our grip and stand upright and take a few calm breaths. That was the moment that I realized that we had done it, through focus, cooperation, and quick thinking. I walked into the galley and looked at all the others staring at me. One said, “What happened to you?” It was then that I realized that I was drenched from head to toe. My hair was plastered to my head; water was dripping from my nose, eyelashes, even from my ear. I was completely and utterly wet. And wet by the rain, just the normal old rain.
Looking out at the sea all around I never imagined how much I could learn from something as simple as the rain: wet in a different way.
Ella King went on our Caribbean Underwater Discoveries Voyage in 2012, and is a Broadreach Alumni Ambassador.