Location: St. Eustatius
We sail downwind at a quick 9 knots. You would be the first one there, steadying the helm, performing boat checks that were so thorough we used to worry. Perhaps a time or two, it seemed like forever, because you had dropped our checklist into the bilge. Even better, you told us of all the amazing things in your life. The exotic places you traveled, your countless fishing tournaments, and your immense love for your family. These moments on watch are the ones I remember as you, but James, the one I cherish the most, was just yesterday. You stand straight up on the salon bench, mumble a sarcastic comment under your breath, and bound over the table, standing tall in front of us all. Once again, you will partake in another Student Leadership Development exercise. This time, instead of answering questions quietly to yourself or teaching us all you know about fishing, I have asked you to speak about yourself. Speak about yourself in front of us all for a very long minute. Speak about yourself only in the most positive of ways. Speak about yourself in a way you never did.
James, you did it. You blew us all away. You spoke of your unparalleled determination of your outstanding courage, and most of all, you described yourself as resilient. Resilient, in a way, none of us can understand, and in a way, most people with double your years can only imagine. The only thing you left out was your fantastically sarcastic and absolutely intoxicating sense of humor. From this day forward, every Turk’s head mat I make that protects our lovely Ocean Star’s deck is for you. For the times you steadied the running backstay as I hit it with the rubber mallet, for the times you stood bow watch in the night squalls, and more than anything, for the drive and joy you have brought into my life and so kindly left behind. You will forever be in the hearts of Watch Team 2. All the love in the world to you, James.