Location: English Harbor, Antigua
90 days. 4,390 nautical miles. 22 people. 18 dives. 37 shopping carts. 628 biscuits. 11 countries. Four wins at Race Week.
However you break down the numbers, this has been an incredible semester — one which we as staff have enjoyed immensely. Not everything about this trip can be broken down into numbers, though, and as our students leave us and make their ways back home to friends and family, we know that they’ll come to understand this in the coming days. We wouldn’t do this work if we didn’t believe that what we do is special, and trust me when I say that Sea|mester has magic in it. You feel it when you’re up on night watch, looking up at the stars flung across the sky and the bioluminescence lighting up dark waters below. You feel it when you come back to the boat from a day ashore bubbling with joy and enthusiasm, having just experienced something so incredible and unique you struggle to put it into words. You feel it when your team drops the headsails in less than a minute when you feed 20 people an awesome meal for the first time when you bare your deepest secrets on bow watch, and the person sitting next to you just smiles, hugs you, understands.
It’s hard to explain this magic to people who haven’t lived it, no matter how hard we try. As staff, we’ve spent years trying to perfect the art of explaining shipboard life to friends and family, so bear with your homecoming Argo crew as they launch into their first stories about Reach Falls, Cuba, and Cayman. As the days and weeks roll on and we all start to process and realize how this experience has impacted us, the stories and memories will focus on something a little less tangible — on what it felt like to be surrounded by 20 other boat-family members, all working towards a common goal. What it’s like to stand up on the end of the bowsprit, outboard of the flying jib stay, and pull the sail down while underway. How it feels to be on the helm at night, friends are debating theoretical zombie apocalypse strategies around you, praying for a star to come out from behind the clouds, so you stop swinging 20 degrees off course with no visual reference to guide you. How being able to breathe underwater is like getting to touch down in a beautiful, alien world. How 90 days may not seem like a long time, but the bonds and friendships we’ve formed this semester are profound enough to last a lifetime.
To my Argo crew: I’m writing this as you guys are shuttling back and forth to Customs to clear out and fly home, and while the thought of your impending departure has me a little teary-eyed, I find myself still laughing through it all as I overhear the jokes you’re cracking on the chart house roof above me and smiling with pride as I see that it’s *you* guys driving the dinghy across the harbor to run your errands — not staff. This is what I’ll miss the most, and this blog-letter to you guys is my real answer to last night’s squeeze question — one which I’m sure the rest of the staff agree with wholeheartedly. Sure I’ll miss the diving, sure I’ll miss the destinations, sure I’ll miss the way it felt to be a part of our Antigua Classics Week racing machine — but in the coming days it’s those less tangible memories that will be at the forefront of my mind, and what I’ll remember above all is how it felt to be a part of your family for these past 90 days.
Thank you for all of the night watch chats, the island explorations, the silly dish pit dance parties. Thanks for the hugs, the pick-me-ups, and all the times you went above and beyond for me and for one another. Thanks for being the kind of crew and the kind of boat-family that I could be proud to be a part of. Thanks for 90 unforgettable days.
Go to bed.