Summer of Blue

February 16, 2012
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The summer of 2010 was full of life jackets, sunscreen, towels, and plenty of sand for me. My family has a forty-two foot sailboat that we have been sailing on ever since I can remember. We had taken our boat, Kala Kai, everywhere along the coast from Louisiana to Key West, but this year were planning on going farther than we had ever gone before. I remember our parents asking us if we would like to spend two months over the summer on our boat sailing it from Key West to the Bahamas and then back up to Pensacola. Instantly, I saw visions of the sun shining on us all day and blue water as far as I could see in every direction, and I knew this would be a summer unlike any other.

We had planned to leave the day my little sister and brother got out of school, and immediately after they were let out we got in the car and headed for the airport. There was my parents, my little brother Luc, my little sister Lauren, our cockapoo Ginger, myself, and all the clothes that we would need for two months at sea. But it was easy to ignore the fact of how cramped the car was when we remembered where we were headed. We took a plane from New Orleans to Miami, and then from Miami we drove to Key West in the late hours of the night. We finally got to the boat at about one in the morning where we had to unload the car.

The next day we happily woke up on the boat, once we walked around the marina we all got the feeling it was going to be a great trip. My mom went to the grocery store to get groceries for the first part of the trip and my dad was working on the boat-there was always something that needed to be fixed. So my brother, sister, and I walked around the colorful town of Key West. There were all kinds of people, restaurants, souvenir stores, and sights to see! However, hardly an hour after we had been walking we were all completely drenched in sweat.

We had everything we needed for the two day sail to the first island that we were going to stop at in the Bahamas. We all went to sleep that night smiling knowing that when we woke up we would be closer to what we had been waiting for for so long. Sure enough, I woke up to the smell of bacon, eggs, and coffee; a traditional breakfast on our boat. I looked up by the steering wheel, and sure enough my dad was sitting there with our dog Ginger laying right by his side, maneuvering our boat through the smooth water.

As I walked up onto the deck, I was shocked to find that I could no longer see land in any direction, my parents must have woken up really early. It was a beautiful day, the wind was blowing enough for us to turn the loud motor off and rely completely on our sails. The sun was still rising so it wasn't that hot yet, but there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. And as I looked to the horizon I was reminded again of one of the many reasons why I love being on the water. It was as if we were the only people out here in this big ocean, but soon an island would magically appear and we would be back to reality.

We continued lazily sailing on that perfect day. We all could just not stop looking at the water, it was so amazing. Also, it was the only thing we could see in any direction. It seemed as if you could see straight to the bottom even though the depth finder said that it was five hundred feet deep. Finally, we couldn't take it anymore, in the middle of the ocean we pulled the sails in, threw a rope off the back to hold onto, and took a plunge into the blue world. It felt so eerie being in the water, not knowing what was below us. Yet, the fears were gone as soon as you floated in the water.

We weren't big fishermen, but we would usually drag a line behind us while we sailed, just for the fun of it. Later in the day, the monotonous sound of the boat hitting the water was interrupted when we heard the fishing pole catch on something! The boat broke out in chaos as Ginger started barking at the pole, my mom tried to slow the boat down, my dad raced for the fishing pole and began to reel it in, and all the kids ran to the back of the boat eager to see what we caught. It was a long fight, and my dad was struggling so we knew it was a big fish. As it was nearing the boat it jumped out of the water and flashed its blue and green scales, it was beautiful and about almost three feet long. As my dad was trying to pull it up onto the boat, Ginger jumped off the boat in an attempt to attack the fish but just fell in the water. After we finally pulled it onto the boat we admired it, it was so cool that we had finally caught a huge fish like this! Even though it was beautiful, that night it became our dinner, and it tasted about as good as it looked.

Those two days at sea flew by, and pretty soon we had tied up at a marina in the Bahamas. We had to go to customs and get our passports checked but then we were allowed to walk around the island. We happened to pull into a very fancy marina with a luxurious resort. We went to the beach and walked around the resort. My mom and I rented bikes and rode a path along the water and we ended up going through this town, it was so neat to see their culture.

And not surprisingly, the boat broke as we were pulling in to the marina. The steering cable had snapped so it was impossible to turn the boat in a direction. Because of that, we got to stay there for two days while it got fixed. We soon learned that there were tons of these huge lizards on the island and that Ginger loved to chase them. She would spot one and immediately run after it, however, there were too fast for her.

The boat was finally fixed and we said goodbye to our first island. The next few islands we were planning on stopping at had no inhabitants so we also restocked our food supply. The sail from this island was one of my favorite trips. The wind was coming from behind us so that meant we could put up the spinnaker which is a rainbow colored sail that goes at the front of the boat. We had no cellphone service or internet so we all just laid out on the deck and listened to the radio we had playing. We talked to each other about how much fun we had and how we couldn't wait for the next island.

That is how most of the rest of the trip went. We would arrive at these unique islands, some with people others without, but each one more beautiful than then one before it. At some islands we would anchor and spend the night right off the coast under the stars. During the day we would explore the islands, snorkel off the boat or at a reef, fish, take naps, or just lay out on the boat. It was two months full of adventures, yet I never got tired of it because you never knew what the next day would hold. We had a rough idea of the route we would take and how long we would stay at each stop but that definitely changed, some islands we just couldn't bring ourselves to leave and so we would stay an extra day or two.

After we had finished going through the islands and had eaten enough conch fritters for a year, we made our way back to Key West. We sailed up the coast stopping in some cities for a few days to relax and walk around. As we sailed from Sarasota to Destin there was a very unpleasant surprise. There was a hurricane entering the gulf and even though we were still pretty far from it we still felt it. The waves were huge all day and night, my sister and my mom got seasick, and in the middle of the night Ginger fell off the boat. It was truly a miracle we found her since we were in the dark of night with not even the moon to help us see anything. We hadn't even noticed she had fallen off for a few minutes, but as soon as we did we all searched for flashlights and immediately stopped the boat. By the time we spotted her in the water we were all hysterical, but she was just swimming around not even aware of the dangers.

This summer trip was definitely one of my favorite vacations I have ever been on. I learned about other places, grew closer to my family, and the whole time I was in one of the most beautiful places. I would not trade this experience for anything and I hope that one day I can go on a similar trip with my family.

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