Going away and coming back changed

By: Sydney Baker, high school alumna High School Dive + Sail , Scuba Diving, Sailing

When I see the sunset, its reds, oranges, blues, and purples, every color you could imagine, is sitting just out of reach. Just curving on all sides, it looks as if the whole ocean could go on forever and you would never hit land. The ocean curls around our boat, and we hug the rocky brown, rained-on green coastline. We cut around the corners of the island and plow through the water that has now changed from clear greenish blue, what one would imagine the waters of the Caribbean to look like, to deep midnight blue, ruffled with white caps on all sides. The wind gently brushes the mainsail. Once we round the island, the wind will start rushing against the sails and increase the knots at which we are traveling. The first watch group downs hot chocolate, some mixed with canned coffee, some not. Others are already asleep, or at least trying to sleep. When I go below deck, I grab my sleeping bag and find a spot to lie down and pass out before my watch. The boat rushes forward now, the waves rocking; but, you can’t hear the wind, you can only hear the sounds of the engine humming and the songs pouring through the boat’s speakers as it plays our skipper’s IPOD, a Dawes song, a favorite among some on the boat:

“I admit that these answers that I seek

Are all to questions I’ve never known

But I pray to keep on looking for as long as I can roam

And when the world finally fulfills me

I will not forget my way back home.”

When my alarm goes off in gentle beeping noises, it’s 12:00 a.m. I grab a raincoat, a harness, and lifejacket and go upstairs for the next three hours until my watch is over. The members of the previous watch, soaking wet from the rain, which poured down during their watch, rush downstairs to grab towels, change, and, their eyes barely open, fall into a place to sleep.

The wind is much calmer now, just tapping the mainsail. Music is still strumming out of the speakers, the skyline is black with the same endless curving; only the small position plotter is giving off light to our deck, even though it is on the lowest brightness. One girl, her eyes barely awake and her head occasionally nodding down for a few seconds only to snap back up, sits on the bench next to me; someone is humming to the song. Every now and then, a small red or green dot, reminding us that we are not the only ones, appears across the horizon. We used to be able to see our companion boat, Tara, but we lost her hours ago. The ocean is blackened with night, while the sky is blazing with stars. Every constellation one could ever imagine is dancing above our heads and casting twinkles in people’s eyes that look up at them.

Splash. Dolphins now surf in our boat’s wake. We all rush to the side to see a whole pod of bottlenose dolphins shimmer under the surface and shatter through the water when they jump up. They look as though they are without a care, just enjoying the ride and surfing whichever waves they can find, kind of like us, moving along in the water, occasionally remembering what we need to do in our lives, such as taking a simple breath. They flash under and next to us, while the stars gaze over us, one can only be humbled by how immeasurable this moment truly is; how it is never going to happen again, with these people all giggling at the dolphins with their eyes lit up by the sky and ocean, while we all experience our first night sail to an island none of us have never seen before.

Yet when I came home from being the sailing voyage this summer, mixed in with some sadness, there was the joy of remembering that this was not a moment to be sad that it is over about, but a moment to be happy that it happened. New adventures await us all, different as they may be, but having gone on two Broadreach programs, I have come to understand that each adventure is different and helps us all to grow into who we want to be. Although not realized in the moments that take one’s breath away, it is in those “normal” moments that one truly realizes how you have changed (anything from pouring Sriracha hot sauce on all your food to downloading all three of the Dawes albums to finally understanding what you want to do with your life). As Kate Douglas Wiggin said, “There is a kind of magicness about going away and coming back all changed.”