A Special Connection: Our North American Crossing

Posted on May 17, 2019 by Class Afloat Student Penelope C.

When you’ve been living on the ocean for a little while, you develop a deep connection, a unique bond with your surroundings that allows you to feel utterly connected with nature. It is in the small moments that we understand it. By breathing in the humid and salty air, by being completely soaked when a wave breaks on the hull of our ship, by feeling the wind hugging our faces and going though our hair, by moving with the motion of the swell, by hearing the constant hissing of the flowing water… It is a bond that can hardly be explained but that is worth sharing.

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I remember just yesterday night, I was on lookout and my friend was at the helm. In front of me, the horizon was pitch black and silent. One could not differentiate the water from the sky nor identify the shapes of the waves. But right there, right above our heads, thousands of stars, if I could have counted them all, were hanging very high in the sky. A precious gift from the universe to lighten the night. As I turned my head to my dear friend, he was looking straight in the air with an innocent smile and sparks in his eyes. He was in total admiration of nature. A gift it sure was: pure joy. His expression showed wonder and a thirst for discovery.

Or shall I point out that day of November, when we swam for the first time in the open sea not seeing either shore, or land, or anything but the endless ocean. I vividly remember this moment like it was yesterday. I closed my eyes and laid floating in the salty water for several minutes. The sun was setting and its rays were piercing through the surface, warming up my skin. I felt the comfort of the water surrounding my body and I had the feeling that everything would be okay.

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Another significant moment would be right now, as I am writing. I am writing these words sitting on a bench outside on the deck of our sailing vessel in the middle of the sea, crossing the Atlantic. We’ve been having such rough weather; the horizon is continuously covered with dark patches, the waves building insanely high, the wind blowing with an outstanding force… and this description might not even be enough to express the intensity of the voyage conditions. We are literally breathing in salt water, we are cold and tired but we all got together to sail the ship as best as we could. We organize each other, work together with great rhythm and pay attention to nature’s doings, almost like a dance!

On the night of the starry sky, without knowing it at the time, we truly understood the meaning of the saying: “There is not enough darkness in the whole world to put out of light only one star”. There was also a world that we had yet to discover and we had just realized it.

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Or perhaps that afternoon, swimming in one of the biggest ocean surrounded by amazing people, I understood how unique every moment is, how gorgeous everything has the potential to be if only we would let it be without trying to control it. And right now, I see courage and resilience in the people surrounding me, and in myself. I notice how skillful we have become when needing to face adversity and how communicative we have naturally become. I am amazed with the unique force everyone possesses.

In all of this, I am certain that we would not have grown this rapidly as a community and as individuals if it wasn’t for the environment. This bond with our surroundings is a mean of great realizations. The ocean, seemingly limitless, evokes in us a sense of wonder. When we sail, there are creatures beyond our imagination concealed beneath the waves. The movement of the clouds and the fluctuation of the winds teaches us anticipation and develops our intuition. The rising sun shows us appreciation and patience. Also, not really knowing where we are going wakes in us a sense of fascination for being in the moment. And there lies the very connection between us: nature. We are constantly inspired by its aspects: its force, its balance, its beauty and much more.

Living on the ocean has taught me so much and I see that it has transformed my shipmates as well. And there is so much more to be inspired by… It is sure that I will come back when I’ll have the chance to. But in my time here, on this vessel sailing through the waves, the greatest gift is and will always be this unique connection with nature; a bond that as brought me closer to my environment, and to myself. I’ll forever be thankful for the moments of discovery, the adventure, the lessons, the inspiration, the friendships, and the joy.

So jump in, my friends, and sail away!