Hi all. I’ve been staring at this screen for an embarrassing amount of time, trying to figure out the right words for our trip’s final blog. Let me first just say that I am more than honored to be the skipper on this trip’s last full day, and I promise I will do my best to do it justice. That being said, if sappy and overly cheesy goodbyes are not your thing, you best look away now.
Let’s start with some easier stuff, like the facts of what we did todayup until around 2:00 PM, our day consisted of the last parts of our deep boat cleaning session. We finished up everything we did not get to do yesterday and prepped as much as we could for the travel day tomorrow. After all the necessary tasks were done, we were free to do what we wished. For some, that was running to shore to get a massage or last-minute travel supplies (me because my backpack literally molded over), and for others, it meant finishing up their goodbye cards to each other. Just in case you don’t know, this is a bittersweet Seamester goodbye tradition that takes place at the end of every voyage; we all write cards to each other and are given all the ones that were written to us as we leave the boat on the final morning. The next task in our day today was meeting in the cockpit around 4:30 for our final squeeze session. The question I chose for this afternoon was, “If you had to go back and do it all again, what is one thing you would do differently and one thing you would keep the same?” A range of thoughtful, silly, and lovely answers were given, leaving me teary-eyed throughout most of the process. We then grabbed our shoes and headed out to dinner – we would have one last signout night and a sit-down dinner at a restaurant on shore. We all ate fantastic food, took many pictures, and reminisced over all the memories this trip had given us. We then walked back to our home one final time and began winding down for the evening. The sight of our ship illuminated against the night sky was a sight to see. People stayed up talking and listening to music, not really wanting to face the inevitable goodbyes that tomorrow was going to bring. Rest assured, my dearest crewmates and I are not taking the present for granted at all tonight.
I don’t quite know how to encapsulate this entire experience in just a few paragraphs. I’ve been trying to do small things to ease myself into leaving – writing all my cards, leaving a little love letter for Vela in the Vela journal, taking extra pictures to remember everything – but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that in 24 hours, I will no longer be with these people. Living on Vela has simply become our way of life, and it feels like I’m losing a small piece of me as I leave it behind forever. This entire thing has been an incredibly life-changing adventure that I wouldn’t trade for the world. The things I’ve seen and the people I have met are unmatchable. I genuinely don’t know how to say goodbye to it all other than saying thank you. Thank you for showing me who I am, what I’m capable of, and what I want to be. I will forever be in debt to this ship and its inhabitants.
To all the potential future crewmates out there who may be reading this, I have many things to say to you. Choosing to do this program is a huge commitment of time and effort but in absolutely the best way possible. You are always doing something here, so if you yearn for adventure and new experiences in the same way I do, this is exactly what would make your soul happy. There is not much that I can guarantee about your experience – considering that every day brings wonderfully unpredictable things – but I CAN guarantee that you will come out a better person. You will make extraordinary connections, see parts of nature that you will literally never get to see anywhere else, have realizations about the self that will last a lifetime, be molded into the best version of yourself, and leave with memories that will be precious to you for as long as you live. It will be beautifully unforgettable. So, as I sit here, crosslegged on the table in the Vela chart house, I have only one piece of advice for any of you out there who have even the slightest desire to come: press that apply button right now. If any part of your brain thinks that you want to do this, press it now. You will not regret it.