The mix of people on this ship has been incredible. Together we speak at least 16 languages, and I may not even have counted them all. Everyone has a different background, their own reasons for being here and their own wisdom. There has been so much to talk about and to learn from everyone. And maybe even more, so much to laugh about. I have laughed so much. I think we all - me, the permanent crew and the voyagers - feel incredibly blessed for the positive vibes day in and out. I would need another lifetime to gather all the wisdom on board. For example, from Enguerrand, the bosun on this trip. I should have filmed him for a day (which he would never have allowed me to do) as he is explaining one thing to another to an endless line of voyage and permanent crew members waiting with a question. And then the non-sailing related topics we have expertise on all together is endless: from cheesemaking to airplanes to tree-maintenance; it is all on board.
But there is no more time to learn everything I would want to learn to have every conversation I would like to have. We are close to land. To Argentina to be precise. It was visible for the first time yesterday and has been material for jokes - for example discussions on who is most desperate to get on land and what they would be willing to do to get off the ship first. In reality, as this trip is almost reaching the end, days are suddenly too short. The word “mañana” was possible for a long time. I’ll read that book tomorrow, I’ll make that photo tomorrow. At sea, time seemed endless. There was always plenty of it. Exactly what some voyagers came for: really wind down, relax and get bored. And then suddenly that was over. On the misty days we were wondering if we would still see sunlight this trip. On days without wind, if we would still sail this trip. Then when the sun came back, a crowd went up to still take that last picture. And when the wind came back, the main deck was suddenly flooded with people wanting to help to set the sails.
Nature seems wanting to make it difficult for us to leave the ship. I have not seen so much bioluminescence in my life as yesterday evening. To make the experience more absurd seals were swimming around us, lighting up like glowing dragons. It almost feels like the ocean was giving a little show to say goodbye. The next afternoon a group of Commerson’s dolphins swam with us for over an hour. They were jumping out of the water, showing us how much fun being a dolphin can be. Then if that was not enough for one day, one of the prettiest sunsets we have seen this week. Former blue watch opened their biergarten (as they refer to it themselves) to experience it “like in the olden days”. It was the last time they did this while we were sailing.
It kind of hurts, having to say “the last time”. And these days have been full of it. The last time I have put the manta trawl out. The last time we maybe hoisted that sail. The last time some of us furled that sail. Thinking about all the other ‘last times’ I will experience these last days gives me a knot in my stomach. Thinking of all the things I won’t be doing anymore gives me a knot too. You would think we would be ready by now, but we are not. This is our home now. It is not the same as getting on the bus or an airplane. This ship has been our little universe, our little bubble. The people on it have been our lives. I am a sentimental person, so I foresee a lot of tears on my side saying goodbye to all these magical encounters.
It is hard, but it is time. Last times are normal. Saying goodbye is normal. The true sailors on this ship know this all too well. We experienced a great adventure and will now go on to the next. We had a toast to our journey, a toast to the company and a toast to the future for we may of might never meet again.
I am off now to enjoy some of the remaining last times. Greetings to you all, so long and thanks for all the fish.
Marretje Adriaanse, Researcher