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Location: About 20 NM to Shore

This morning, as I pulled myself out of bed for the 0800 watch, I was greeted first by my little sister jumping around the deck yelling about sperm whales – which her team had just seen breaching the surface off the starboard bow. This energy of excitement and wonder permeated through the entire day, and each of us on board. This being the final day of our transatlantic passage, each hour was spent itching to see land. It very much reminded me of how it felt to be a child in the back seat of your parent’s car, nearing your much-anticipated destination; desperately pitched forward in your seat, craning to see what’s up ahead, and “Are we there yet?!” on the tip of your tongue. Land evaded sight for most of the day, with the shadows on the edge of the horizon teasing us with every mile, hinting that something was just beyond our reach! With roughly 45 nm between us and the nearest island, we retreated to the Salon to test our VHF radio knowledge and earn our certificates. This exam was followed by a beautiful Portuguese lesson from Ins – who seems to be fluent in just about everything. There is something truly wonderful about learning something from someone who cares deeply about that thing. Ins is a steward of languages, and she presented the simplest of phrases with great care – working to convey the weight of their importance in how we can use them to be polite and courteous guests in this new land.
After our lessons, the monotony of watch schedules returned to spite us all once more, and land snuck up on watch team 3 during their toga party watch in the cockpit. The Island was graceful in its approach, sudden in its presence, and much larger than I would’ve anticipated. To pay homage to past explorers and ocean-faring adventurers, I made a point of not searching for images of the Azores or reading about the sights or landmarks – while I generally study a location before I travel, to learn customs and familiarize myself with the landscape and peoples, I refrained this one time – I believe this to be one of the only times in my life that I am truly going into an adventure blindly, trusting the process and allowing for the wonder and beauty of a place to take me completely by surprise. The cliffs on the western end of the isle we approach were the first I saw of this strange and fantastic land. I feel like some historical explorer, seeing new and foreign lands with virgin eyes after leagues and leagues of ocean, the only difference between me and them is my lack of intent to colonize the area and take its resources for profit – but y’know, same same.
After we all gazed out at the shadow of the Island approaching for some time, cell phone notifications started to beep wildly just before dinner as we pulled into range for some people to access the Island’s cell towers – tearful calls home and excited texts were sent as the first opportunity to share these unique two+ weeks with our families came up. This rapid burst of communication was interrupted by dinner, an awesome stir-fry made Alejandro and his sous chefs, and we all sat down to share in our gratitude for the day.

Tonight we will dock close to midnight and await information on getting COVID-19 tests so we can get out into the world of civilization yet again! I cannot begin to encapsulate how much we all have collectively experienced out here into words. I hope my peers will have better luck describing it to you all in their calls home.
Obrigada and Boa noite!

Photo 1: Paige and Ceci manning a downhaul
Photo 2: Toga adorned Ins aboard her elegant vessel (ignore the garbage bags in the dingy)
Photo 3: Alexa giving Athena a run for her money (I hope Alexa’s mom likes this one! I hear my first uploads didn’t make the cut!)
Photo 4: Anna Banana is excited about all her new animal friends in the Atlantic.