Location: UW to Carribbean

The sea is the deepest blue now, and the waves reach over the deck on a good roll. It’s a feat to amble your way across the deck, especially if you’re goph-ing. I’ve seen people stack up to three full dishes in their arms in a valiant effort to get food up quickly, Perhaps more in the human effort to never take two trips from the car to the house with groceries. The gophers today woke up at noonish, rolled out of bed, and had to hurry on deck to get the food up, while the head and sous chefs had been up prepping, cooking, and prepping for a fair few hours previously, if not also the night before. It’s something to take into account that half of the pre-trip interviews asked the question, “What would you do after a long night on watch in pouring rain and horrible conditions when you have to chef in two hours? Would you try to nap for those two hours? Or would you sit down, work on the essay due in two days, and study for your test that same afternoon?”
The answer is all of the above. kinda. Apparently. I’ve never seen so many kids buckle down and lean into an experience. I know for a fact when each watch team starts their rotations as a resident super-light-sleeper, and I know that I mentally cringe when I turn over and see my roommate come back in from watch, rip off the foulies, sit for a moment, and hop back up to go start cheffing for 30 people. I wonder which watch they have when I see a head drop slightly in class and Troll’s voice ring out with a “Hey DJ!” and I am amazed at the strength that pours out of individuals that never hesitate to run and adjust a sail or immediately offer to helm or do a boat check on watch. I have found millions of things to envy in each person living on this boat and triple the amount to be proud of.
We’ve reached another point of comfort in our floating home that equates to us snapping at each other and getting in our personal spaces, and it wears on each of us differently. I’ve seen tears and smiles and blood and burns, and some days I can see the thought of “I can’t do this anymore” hop its way through each head like a flea.
And then all it takes is a giggle. Or a sunrise. Or a “FISH ON!”. Or, in special cases, all it takes is making eye contact with someone in bed as you pass to or from watch and seeing the same emotions mirrored back at you. We’ve seen the insides of a tuna, palaces and parks, at least five countries, millions of fish, and some of the most breathtaking things on our planet. Tonight I asked what gave everyone’s lives meaning, and I’ll sum up a few answers here: My family. My friends. My pets. My faith. Adventure. People. etc. etc
Realistically we are hungry, exhausted, tested, and absolutely full of it. And then the next second, we are full and exuberant and foaming at the mouth for more.

For those that don’t know, our watches are 4 hours on, 8 hours off, and the general understanding is that the 8 am-12 pm/8 pm-Midnight is the absolute f a v o r i t e. We have two meals a day since now our days start at Noon instead of 7 am. Don’t worry about brekkie, though; it’s a rolling breakfast that can be accessed anytime as a mixture of oatmeal, ramen, or personal cereal stashes (not all at once. Well, actually, I wouldn’t put it past anyone to do that on this boat after wild tuna day). We still have 2ish classes daily, and we just had our second to last Marine bio exam this afternoon. The hardest test so far was NavMaster while sailing, especially when the onions flew across the salon. Students get to wake each other up before their watch, and personally, I have never been put in a better mood than being woken up by my peers. It’s not always that lucky, though (@ Pup’s foot). Each day we check the job wheel and inwardly die a bit or sigh in relief based on the little typed word depicting your focus for the day. Balancing a job, school work, meals, rest, and random sail work has been hard, yet each day a new ease appears, and we find excitement or meaning in something new. Especially when everyone is a little stir-crazy- I’ve never seen slap happiness infect so fast.

Personally, I have reached the point where every spare moment I have to sit or stand, I find myself looking at the scene and faces around me and drinking it in, knowing that we are well beyond halfway and each moment is its own cherished goodbye. Though that may just be me, as others can’t even picture what the end looks like yet, while some expect to cry for days. Today I charged my phone up and turned it on for the first time since leaving just for my skipper day, and I found myself having a ball playing with my phone’s portrait mode. So, in the spirit of only three photos allowed at sea, I have tried to include at least two photos per blog photo- the first was a portrait I took during the day, and the second was what was going on in the background.
The first is my homie DJ Seabiscuit taking a moment to mock-nap while cooking today, with our marine bio cram notes in the background.
The second is a portrait of Smiley with the galley kiddos behind, and I admit I chose the blurry photo cause of Amesie’s face.
The third is a portrait of Chuper with the dishy pit kids pitting it up tonight.
I hope to make a huge album of these photos at the end, as I have never caught so many beautiful stolen moments.

Living from extreme to extreme has left us bruised, a little beaten, and betting that the rest of our lives will never be the same.
I have seen such beautiful reflections from Rachel, Emy, and Skylar. I have seen raw human determination from Cooper and Lindsay. I have witnessed the most beautiful laughs and smiles from Joel, Zoe, Maxwell, and Maya. I have found depth as far as the sea beneath us in Alison, Owen, Amelia, Julia, and Isabel. I have seen resilience and creativity in Izzy, Anna, and John. I have loved each patient and hilarious moment with Jimmy, Max, Eli, and Mia. Jac has grown so much and taught others countless things. Skyler, the wildcard, has the kindest eyes, and Asa’s quippiness paired with hardworking-ness is unparalleled. and Sophie is the goofiest, most wildly pragmatic person I know.
Each of these groupings has been built off individual moments, not just a time including those individuals. I cannot describe to you how much I love each of the people here and how outstanding I find them. Though we’ve all gone through various days of loneliness, exhaustion, excitement, and loopiness, we have found our way to a good boat family and a large group of adventures that have already started planning future trips and trollops together.

To each parent, I need you to know how hard this trip is. To understand that it’s not a magical rest-filled vacation to travel the world. And please don’t get me wrong- I am sure some of you already know that! But I mean it like this:
We are doing crazy things at a crazy time in life without knowing an ounce of our futures, surely, and it has changed everything and nothing all at the same time. It will be so hard to accurately tell you about each morning we felt like giving up and each Atlantic bull ride where we felt like we could take on the world. We can’t wait to share it with you, though.
I hope you know just how much everyone misses you. From tears to phone screen savers, we are living each day knowing we’ll get to come back and thank you and tell you all about how the world has changed us and how we want to change the world.

I know I put a lot of different stuff in this blog, but don’t worry for one second that the hard bits are too much, or that injuries are scaring us, or that we can’t do it. We’re doing it! Oh, my word, we’re DOING IT! LITERALLY, TODAY WE STARTED SAILING OVER THE WORLD’S LARGEST MOUNTAIN RANGE. And not one soul I’ve talked to today said they’d rather be anywhere else. Quite the opposite, actually. From what I’ve noticed, we’ve all made it onto Vela at the time in our lives when we needed to.

With 21 days left after Midnight, it feels like it’s been a whole year and one second all at the same time, and it feels like we still have so long ahead of us, even with 3 Wednesdays left.

Anyways, I think, if I’ve done my math right, that today is my last day skippering, a role that I honestly love so much (Mainly cause I get to wake people up in creative ways, and then I get to write you!). I hope you’ve enjoyed each blog and each scrap of our adventure and that you know we are so constantly grateful to you all at home who sent us here, who think of us, who read this, and who have shaped us into who we are.

Dear Winegarden’s,
I miss you all, but I have to admit the world is so gorgeous. I’m so happy to finally have seen places where you’ve gone and then some. Thank you for teaching me how to live well, what questions to ask, and who to look towards.

Give Scout and Gma Bev a hug and kiss, lick Jonny, tickle Anna and taze Parker, and big big hugs to mom, dad, and Grandparents Winegarden’s.
p.s. I dislocated my shoulder tee hee (not bad, all is well. I’m just mad because they keep telling me not to do things).

PPS- thank you, Jonny, for all the wake-up ideas from my traumatizing childhood. they work like a charm here.
and thank you, Jonny, Anna, and Parker, for showing me what the world can be.