By: Shanon Richards, high school alumna High School Adventures, Scuba, Sailing
Cool ocean breeze, sun beaming down on the sparkling water while we cruise along at six to nine knots, how could you not be in heaven? My Broadreach experience was the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I made lifelong friendships, learned life changing lessons, learned to sail, hiked, got higher scuba certifications, and had an experience of a lifetime.
I still remember the very first night of my trip. When we got on the boat all we could think about was getting in the water so after our boat captain, Mike Stephens, showed us around about seven of us jumped in the water and went for a little swim. I knew right then that I was going to have a great trip because we had already started to connect. The first night we didn’t have our entire group because they had a little delay. The next day they showed up and you could tell that they were a little insecure because all the rest of us already knew each other, but if I think about what if they wouldn’t have showed up then my trip would not have been the same. As the days went on we started to learn more and more about sailing and everyday we got more and more fond of it. I think that the reason for this was the way Mike presented it to us. He had such energy about sailing and you could tell by the look in his eyes when he talked about it how much he loved it and pretty soon we all started to inherit that same look in our eyes from him. Now I’m not going to lie there were days when we were like huh? We would also get frustrated with sailing sometimes but Mike always knew how to calm us down and explain whatever it was we were frustrated or confused about. We also had knot lectures most of the nights when we were just taking a little chill time in the saloon or part of us were on a night dive. The last two nights Mike taught us the most difficult knot, a turks head. Most of us conquered the knot and tied one around our left ankle to show our accomplishment of becoming a skipper. I still wear mine with pride and show it off from time to time but the real reason I keep it on is to remind me of my wonderful experience. In due time we got a good hang of sailing we started to be competitive about it. Anytime that we would be sailing to another island or cove that the other boat, Yann, on the same trip as us was also going to then we would race them without them even knowing about it. We would try to hoist our sail faster than Yann and then try to get to our final destination faster than they did. We would also “race” them when we would put the sail down and frill the jib. This made sailing just that more fun.
Our sailing was not the only thing that we were competitive in. We would have little races against each other to see who could get in the water the fastest when we would go on a dive. We would divide ourselves evenly on the port and starboard sides of the boat and when Mike would yell “DIVE DIVE DIVE!!” we would all plunge into the water as fast as we could and see which side could get in the fastest. I was always on the port side and of course we always won. Mike would always time us when we did this and on our last dive the port side got in the water in six seconds!! Which was definitely a record. After our little game on the surface we would all descend into the most exquisite water with the most astonishing coral I have ever seen. Under the surface we were all mesmerized by the coral and aquatic life. We all gazed at it in awe on every dive and tried our hardest to find cool little things to show one another. Logan was always so excited about it that he would dance underwater for our amusement. It also never failed that one of us would start a little wrestling match. Logan usually started this as well. Back on the surface we continued our diving certifications with advanced and rescue diving certifications. I always loved the lectures, which I know sounds weird, but Jim, another dive instructor, always had the best stories about diving which always left us laughing.
Now we did other things than just dive and sail. Either at the first of the day or at the end we would go wakeboarding. I would have to say that it was usually my favorite part of the day. I had never wake boarded before and when I finally got up it was such a great rush that I wanted to do it over and over. There were days when we would wake up at the crack of dawn just to go wakeboarding and it was well worth the hour less of sleep. We also went hiking a few times which was amazing because we always hiked to these colossal waterfalls. At one waterfall there was a place where you could dive. Zak and I decided to have a little competition and see who could do the best backflip off of there. It was awesome and frightening at the same time but worth every moment I was scared.
The things that we did on this trip were once in a lifetime chances and experiences, but to me the most important chance and experience I got was meeting all the people I did. I had a real strong connection with every single person on that boat. A connection that I will never forget and that I will always feel for them. I learned so much from them. I learned that there are other places besides the wonderful state of Texas. There are also people out there who don’t say y’all 200 thousand times a day. So people actually speak correct English! But more importantly I learned that you have to be open to people and their opinions even if you don’t like what they are saying. You have to respect the way some people do things even if it is different from the way you do things because your way may not always be the right way or the only way. I learned how to make a complete meal with only cans of cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, corn, beans, and rice and feed sixteen people with it. Also that you don’t always need a queen-size bed with a goose down comforter to get a good night’s rest. All you need is a boom and a sleeping bag. I often look at my pictures of my trip to remind me of all of these things, or sometimes I just glance at my turks head and all these memories come flowing into my head. Which is perfect when a lecture gets boring in class. I will never forget my three weeks on the Valenza. I will never forget the people on the Valenza and the lessons they taught me