For a decent amount of my childhood, 7 years to be exact, sailboats and traveling were big parts of my life. My family and I would sail from our home in Olympia, WA throughout the San Juan islands and back every Summer. Sometimes we would even sail all the way to Canada. These journeys gave me beautiful and unique experiences such as looking out of the boat at night and seeing dozens of seals laying on the beach or getting soaked from head to toe by standing next to a large waterfall, but none of these could compare to what I experienced on my journey to Mexico and back.
The journey that changed my life began in 2011. I was 12 years old and my little sister was only 9 when my family departed from Swantown Marina, where we used to keep our boat, Pearl. My sister and I spent the first leg of the journey with my grandparents, where we watched hours of cable, ate tons of snacks and delicious meals, and prayed the rosary multiple times per night. Thankfully after a week or two, my parents had arrived in San Francisco and my dad flew up to Oregon to bring us back with him. We said our goodbyes and got on a plan to meet up with our mom and a few of my parent's friends who helped them bring the boat to San Francisco. We spent a few days exploring, paddle boarding, and just simply having fun, and then we finally began heading south all together.
We stopped all along the West coast of California, meeting new people and finding new experiences every day. A little less than halfway through California, we started seeing dolphins swimming at our bow every single day. They would easily keep up with our boat with just a flick of their tail, occasionally leaping out of the water. As expected, they would always leave eventually, but once when we went for a few days on the ocean without stopping to go to land, I was below deck and heard a squeaking type of noise. It was late at night and I had begun dozing off, so I dismissed it as just my imagination. Then I heard it again, so I decided to go up on deck and up to the bow. I peered over the edge, and that's where I saw one of the most magical images I had ever seen. There was a dolphin swimming beside my boat in the pitch-black night. The dolphin itself was just a normal dolphin for all I could tell, but what made it so beautiful was that it was glowing while swimming in the water. The phosphorescence was being activated by its movement. Everywhere it moved it left a short path of light. It completely mesmerized me. I quickly ran to the cockpit of the boat to let the rest of my family know, but unfortunately, by the time they got to the bow, the dolphin had already departed, leaving me as the only one who saw it.
We continued down the coast, experiencing even more stories like getting dragged underneath the dinghy (small boat) while beaching or nearly getting rammed by a humpback whale multiple times,and got to go to so many more amazing places such as Knott's Berry Farm, a fun-filled amusement park with the Peanuts characters as the mascots. But the most entertaining stories were when we finally made it to Mexico.
When in Mexico, I had multiple different types of experiences. Ones that made me laugh, ones that scared me, and sometimes the ones that made me cry. One of the most hilarious things happened when my dad decided to go into the water to clean the hull of the boat. He spent hours down there scraping the grime and barnacles off it, and when he finally got back on the boat, he felt like his ears were popping. He figured the feeling would go away later, but the next day he apparently felt the same. Later that same day, my family and I decided to go into town to get a few groceries, and on the way back my dad all of a sudden felt the ear popping dissipate. He told me it felt as if something fell out of his ear. After he felt that, he looked at the ground and BAM! Tiny crabs. These tiny crabs had been inside his ear the whole time and all of a sudden, they decided to crawl out of his ears. After seeing the crabs, my dad looked over at my mom to see her staring at the crabs with disgust, and when their eyes met, they just cracked up.
Along with those occurrences, there were many more, including horseback riding on the beach on my 13th birthday, and having the very next day rain so much that we were able to collect gallons of water by placing bowls and buckets outside, and so windy that our anchor came loose, and we started drifting. This resulted in us having to pull up our anchor, so our sailboat didn't crash into another boat, and our dinghy even ended up flipping over, almost causing us to lose it. We also encountered problems, such as when our engine stopped working on what we planned to be a two-day trip without stopping. We had to raise our sails and let the wind carry us, but at times the current was stronger than the wind and moved us backward, turning it into a four-day trip.
In the end, I had multiple different types of encounters at this point in my life, all of them affecting who I am today. Without them, it's possible I wouldn't have the same sense of humor I have now or the same interests. I probably wouldn't even be as close to my family as I am now because, without that opportunity, I wouldn't have had to spend as much time with them and would probably have been around friends doing whatever middle schoolers did those days instead. This experience gave me part of who I am, as well as a load of stories to tell the world, and it is something I would never give up.