June 3, 2017

What a day of adventure! If our crew had known what June 3rd held for us, the day would not have been nearly as colorful. Saturday morning calls for pancakes even while docked at an exclusive French island. After enjoying our blueberry pancakes, the crew gathered all the necessities, including friendship bracelet line, and set off for French St. Martin.

Never have I known peace like sailing downwind. The wind gently leads us with the waves like a turtle in the tide. Sailing today was a moment to stop, slow our breath, and appreciate the wonders around us. Adventures like this one can be a whirlwind of experiences, but today we had a moment before the thrill to appreciate the raw beauty and peace of sailing.

As we approached the bay, our peaceful sky filled with thunder, literally. As we watched a squall overcome the French side of St. Martin, we discovered our halyard was stuck at the top of the mast. After considering our options and making a few phone calls, we decided to anchor under sail, host Jen up the mast, and manually straighten out the main halyard. The crew was on edge. No more theoreticals or book work, this was a real life problem.

Just as we were about to send Jen up the mast while anchored with the full main sail out, a rainbow appeared. Not just any rainbow in the sky. This rainbow arched right in front of our boat. We could see the beginning, the end, and each vibrant color in between. It was beautiful.

Now keeping in mind that I’m a student on this program, I realize my life was not in danger at that moment. But, to be given a gift of beauty like a rainbow in the middle of chaos gave me so much peace. Our crew was together; we were going to conquer each challenge one by one, together as they come.

Jen fixed our mainsail and to be honest, it wasn’t the end of the chaos for that day. There was another storm after our rainbow. But, later that evening, we shared a meal, made friendship bracelets, and laughed about the day’s misfortunes. Before going to bed, each of us made a choice of what we would remember from the day and there is no doubt in my mind that our gratitude for each other as crew and friends grew exponentially.

One of my favorite African proverbs goes like this, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I’m thankful for my crew today. No matter the distance or the speed, life on our boat is full of color and beauty because of the people on it.

Sarah McClain, Echo student, age 21, Chicago, IL

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