There’s nothing like the Caribbean

By:  Jordan Silidker, high school alumnus High School Dive + Sail , Scuba Diving, Sailing

No matter where my mind and body may be, my heart is always in the Caribbean. I’ve done three trips with Broadreach and two of them were in the Caribbean on UDA (Underwater Discoveries Advanced). This summer I’m going back down to the Caribbean again as an intern. Most people that I tell about my Broadreach experience ask me why I would want go back to Caribbean when I could go to some exotic place like Australia, Fiji, or Honduras. I tell them that I have been to Red Sea and experienced the “exotic” Broadreach trip, but that it in no way compares to the joy and excitement that I get out of the sailing and diving in the Caribbean. There is something about the Caribbean that I am able to identify with, which makes me feel at home. The Caribbean reefs are the first reefs that I ever saw, so, of course, they will always hold a special place in my heart. It is a lot like the first time I kissed a girl in 7th grade. She will always hold a little place in my heart for introducing me to something wonderful.

I was so nervous about my first Broadreach trip. I was leaving for a trip that billed itself as a sailing and diving trip and I knew absolutely nothing about sailing or diving. I was being thrown blindly into a foreign land and was supposed to enjoy it. Right. What if I don’t like sailing? What if I don’t like diving? What if I don’t get along with anyone? Those questions, and more, flew through my head the whole way down to St. Maarten. My anxiety turned me into a nervous wreck, which just made the whole process worse. By the time the plane landed, my nervous thought process progressed to the point that I was convinced I was either going to get lost underwater and die or that my boat was going to sink and I was going to die. I was prepared for the worst.

Once I got off the plane in St. Maarten and met the staff and the other participants I completely forgot about sinking boats, decompression sickness, and all those other unlikely disasters that I had hyped up in my mind. By the end of the first day I knew that the trip was going to be amazing, and we were not even leaving port till the next day. As each day went by I fell more and more in love with diving, sailing, and the Caribbean. Upon returning home all I could think about was being back in the Caribbean. I had dreams that I was still down there and, in class, would fantasize about living on one of the islands that I visited. I did not care what island I was living on as long as it was in the Caribbean.

Two summers later, after an experience in the Red Sea, I found myself back down in the Caribbean doing the same UDA trip I had done two summers before. This time I was so excited that I couldn’t stop moving the whole plane ride. People must have thought I was crazy because I was pacing up and down the aisle, listening to music, for most of the plane ride. I tried to sit in my seat, but my excitement could not be contained to such a small area. I needed a whole aisle to contain all my excited energy. This time, since I was familiar with the UDA experience, I ran to the boat, unpacked my stuff, relished, once again, the scenery and mellow atmosphere, and then helped the other kids on my boat get settled. We all got along so well the first night. Everyone was energetic, friendly, fun, and mellow all at the same time. There was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be another amazing experience. Some people say that first impressions are always correct. This trip was no exception.

It started off in St. Maarten and we traveled to St. Barts, Nevis, St. Kitts, Statia, Saba, and the surrounding dives sites. The first trip left so many memories and sights ingrained in my memory that even after a year away from the islands I was still able to navigate dive sights and find my way around the islands. I was still able to find my way to the ice cream shop on St. Barts, I remembered every step that I fell on going up and down Mt. Scenery on Saba, I managed to find my way to the shop on Nevis where I had bought the tasty Nevis hot sauce, and I even remembered the look out point on the Quill hike in Statia where there is a better view of the rainforest in the crater. I remembered the dual pinnacles at “man-o-war shoals” in Saba, the coral canyons of “paradise reef” in St. Kitts, and many others. I think back and realize that I have heaps of overlapping memories from these two trips, all of which are amazing. Even writing this essay is getting me excited for yet another summer in the Caribbean.

Everyone needs reasons to make them smile randomly throughout the day. My daily random grins are influenced by thoughts about my family, friends, or diving. No matter what is going on around me, all I have to do is think about any of those three and instantly a wave of happiness flows through my body. Most of my dives have been done on a Broadreach trip, so indirectly Broadreach is a reason for my daily random grins. I do not think that it is wrong for me to assume that there are more than a few Broadreach alums who feel the same way I do. If you do not agree with me, make note of what you are thinking about next time you zone out in class and are sitting there smiling stupidly at the wall. Or, work hard to remember that last incomprehensible thought as your subconscious floods your conscious mind the instant before you fall asleep. If you are anything like me, there is a good chance that most of those thoughts and memories happened on a Broadreach trip.