In 2010 I left my home solo for the first time to embark on a new adventure. This adventure was called Sail Caribbean and the backdrop was the beautiful seascape of the British Virgin Islands. I learned more about myself on that journey than I ever dreamed possible and the experience changed my outlook on my life as well as the world. In later days to come I would say that the “BVI” was my home away from home, my sanctuary.
At first I didn’t really believe that a group of islands in the Caribbean could be a place where I felt comfortable; growing up in the mountains of Montana I never really gave a second thought to the ocean. Of course, that all changed when I went to the Caribbean for the first time in 2003 with my family as a newly certified SCUBA diver. Since then I have been in love with the ocean and the many mysteries that it holds. That is why when I found the Sail Caribbean program; I knew I had to go.
Sail Caribbean is littered with opportunity in the form of many different programs, some focusing purely on sailing to others focused entirely on SCUBA. The programs combine sailing with underwater exploration and in the case of my program, Sierra, marine biology as well. I had no idea at the time that this combined experience would change my life forever.
While living in a confined space on a sail boat for 3 weeks with up to 9 people you have never met before, from all across the nation and around the world, you tend to learn much about yourself. I personally learned that I needed to take others opinions into consideration as well as learn to actually enjoy myself. When taking over the maintenance of a boat you learn to care for yourself and the others around you who look up to you for basic needs such as food, cleanliness, and even shelter as every night we slept outside and the sky always opened up on us. The boat teaches you how to be responsible for both the people around you and for yourself.
Because of my love for the ocean and my utter disappointment when I had to leave I was asked to come back to the Sierra program as an intern for 2011 Sail Caribbean. That was an experience even more important to whom I am as a person today. My duties included teaching the students about certain areas of study (such as sharks or mangroves), making sure to journal my experience for a blog later on, and to take video for a small look into Sierra for the Sail Caribbean website. I learned so much about myself on this trip, from the need to be even more self motivated than I already am ( because it was my job to create the internship program), to learning to act my age and not grow up too quickly. The internship really opened my eyes to who I truly am as a person and who I want to be as a person later on in life, possibly a marine conservationist.
I can’t imagine any other experience that taught me more about life and myself than my time at Sail Caribbean in the British Virgin Islands. It taught me to be self reliant, patient, and self motivated as well as to truly be myself. This experience is what has molded me into the person I am today, confident in who I am and who I want to be.
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