Location: 26*15.6' N 22*20.271' W

Greetings, loved ones (in Snoop Dogg’s voice) —

Today was our third day crossing the Atlantic. We are entering the groove and haze of passage life — I’m excited to see this group reap all of the benefits it has to offer, including the ability to become the wackiest and weirdest version of yourself (and then the challenge that follows of dialing that back in when you return to land). My day began with my and Sam’s watch team (watch team 2) emerging from the companionway at 4 am. We discussed how insane of a prospect it would be to sit down for four straight hours to do just about anything at home – let alone sit in a room with eight other people and only yourselves to entertain you. We then watched the early hours of the morning fly by thanks to many stories told, conspiracy theories shared, quantum physics explored, workouts attempted, and laughs abound. We collectively realized today marks only 29 days left in this trip, and with that realization, a feeling of sentimentality and nostalgia for our experience here, even as it is still unfolding before us, with many of our favorite memories still to be made.

One of the most difficult things that occur when students return home is the sentiment that we do not have the words to properly describe this experience. That, try as they might, can’t be captured and relayed in a way that can be easily understood by anyone that wasn’t here. This may feel, at best, a slightly dramatic teenagerism and, at worst, our own less(?) pretentious version of “study abroad changed me.” While that may be sliiiightly true for our days bopping around southern Europe — if anything can’t be properly relayed, it’s the experience of being on passage. It’s my favorite part of life aboard, and even among the most seasick among us, it will be what we look back at the most fondly (whether they believe me right now is another story).

So explaining the passage is impossible (an unconvincing word in any context), but I’ve had years of trying, so here’s my best attempt:

Passage has the honesty of an unmade bed. everyone ends up looking like a deer on the ice at one point or another. the vastness and consistency of the horizon line affront you with introspection. learning to uncomplicate everything. If we aren’t supposed to dance, then why all of this music? Maybe it won’t impress someone looking for an endless summer, but it becomes home to you and I. time slips out of view with the land, and we are grateful for it. You pass along, watch, watching your friends briefly exist in that space between sleeping and waking. More likely to be woken up by the sudden absence of noise rather than its presence.

There are not many better ways to be woken up than this engines off, a stark yet eventually predictable serenity of the news that you are sailing. Knowing that many miles will be sailed while you sleep, that your friends carry out difficult tasks to allow you rest and you the same for them. There’s always been laughter here – but on passage, a certain combination of sensory deprivation and hours spent together makes it all weirder and more wonderful. The stars and the ocean compete for your attention – each trying to out twinkle the other at night. The outside world fades away without announcement or fanfare. You’ve never been more wholly in a place than you are when you’re here. Life feels like it’s being lived in a way that you will continue to chase long after passage is over, long after you’ve departed vela. But if you look carefully, you can find bits of it everywhere, every day. Better yet, you can create it.

Memory is fickle and easily corrupted. Even the act of remembering a memory alters it slightly, as you are now looking at it through the lens of how you feel about it now. I’m sure retrospectively, the whales we’ve seen will get bigger, and with them, the waves they jumped out of. The sunsets will all be pinker and more profound. I think we’re all allowed this natural eventuality for our future pirate tales. As a past student, I’ve learned that none of these details matter. It’s the 3 am conversations, shared time on the low side attempts to have long-distance conversations through a stethoscope, late-night hallucinations, never-ending quotes from “Friday,” obscure nicknames, experiences with the shadow man, random adventures in new and foreign places, and rogue squeeze questions that hold true in our memory — because they’re what ultimately made the trip.

This is my last blog post for this trip, so I want to say thank you, Vela, for a wonderful time and the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life. Can’t wait to see how all of our paths cross again and where this adventure leads all of the students. It’s been an absolute pleasure.