It can be difficult to head out to sea for a length of time. The sights, sounds, smells, and daily routines change. Your body must adapt quickly to a world of constant movement. Tasks normally completed mindlessly on shore soon take more energy and active thought. Being away from family, friends, and the regular comforts of life ashore, especially around the holiday season, can place you in a position to reflect on these challenges.
However, this past week has provided a new sense of wonder and excitement.
It has been about a decade since I have been able to view a coral reef in the wild. I am even more excited that the students were able to experience such a biodiverse world beneath the waves, no matter if this was their first or hundredth time doing so. Seeing and experiencing the ocean both above and below the surface is something rare and spectacular.
Caribbean reef squid hangs just below the surface waters at Rendezvous Bay reef.
Sailing can truly give a sense of the natural world’s emotion. There are times of peace, where flat calm waters allow for a spyglass view into the depths to see pelagic fish and mammals. And then there are moments of power, where giant swells are able to push around a steel ship like it was nothing.
At the surface world, you quickly learn to respect the sea, both out of a need for safety along with just plain awe. Navigation, weather, speed, maintenance of your vessel, the well-being of your shipmates, and many other factors are at the forefront. It is an all-encompassing experience unlike anything else.
When opportunity allows for you to dive below the waters, a shift occurs.
Similar to being aboard a ship, you must be aware of your surroundings, depth, and direction. But these factors become more intimate to your own being. Though there may be other people nearby, the enveloping of the ocean around you is something felt on a personal level. Some sounds muffle and change while new ones become clearer. Pressure and water temperature impact every square inch of skin. You become closer to being a part of the ocean while remaining a visitor all the same.
This past week, swimming amongst the reefs of the USVI, provided an escape from the surface and a time to reconnect with myself. I am ever thankful for the opportunity to become a part of the sea.
To Mom, Dad, Bella, Francesca, Liv, Anneli, Dan, Danny, Maeve, Emilio, and Jesse, I look forward to seeing you all in a couple short weeks! I hope you have a fun and safe holiday season!