Sardinia had been but a blip in time, we had just arrived and were already leaving. Rome (Civitavecchia really, but who cares about an hour car ride distance?) was our next port-of-call . It was also to be our last.
Part 1: Student-led passage
At the end of every semester, students on board Vela elect student leaders to plan and manage a short passage, to test and grow more confident in our new skills. I applied to be skipper, captain really, and was elected in the role along with other students as chief mate, engineer and two navigators.
We looked at weather and wind forecasts, pilot books, electronic nautical charts and all there was in order to effectively plan our passage. We prepared for departure at 8 am, left anchor at 10 and were sailing by 1pm. The winds were strong and I helmed underway from anchor to the final sail raise. Mal’s sailing knowledge was crucial, our navigators Sage and Tia’s eyes didn’t miss a detail and Annie made sure our engines and generators were always at the ready.
The passage went wonderfully with great predictions for when the wind died down to arrival times. By the next morning, around 8:30, we were arriving in Civitavecchia’s port. I brought us from the sea into the port and handed the helm to Calum, our ‘real’ chief mate, for docking.
Everyone was so nice, and all participated to make this passage as good as possible. Thanks for trusting my team and I. We did it!
Part 2: Roma, the eternal city
Our time in Rome was bittersweet. We had finally arrived to the culmination of our trip to such an incredible city and with the best team ever, but to whom we would be saying goodbye in less than three days. By now, some had already been balling their eyes out, all were saddened at thinking about our separate post-trip reality.
We made the best out of it, visited Civitavecchia during one afternoon of free time, and had dinner by the city’s wall which overlooks the port and the sea. We spent a whole day out in Rome, got lost (for real), saw the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi fountain and the Vatican, basking in centuries of culture and history. We also basked in our joy of being together, but also in having the best gelato on every street corner. We took every picture possible together and declared our never-ending love for our group members and our new friendships. When in Rome…
Part 3: The wonder of the wanderers
The dreaded day 70 arrived and people started leaving our home for the last two months over the course of the morning. I had a flight the next day along with a few others, we were the last to leave and waved our final goodbyes to the staff all gathered on deck.
While our final group did spend a final afternoon in Rome getting piercings and tattoos (it was a perfect end really), we all felt as lost wanderers.
The beauty of living on a sailboat is that your home, your bed, your friends follow you as you go. You might be drifting, but your community is whole. Now separated with such diverging life paths forward for each and every one of us, we can only rejoice in having had these memories and experiences together.
It is hard to write in words how incredibly wonderful, beautiful and crazy amazing this trip has been with this band of wanderers. I can honestly say my time on Vela was the best summer of my life and I do get teary writing this.
Travelling together, crossing an ocean together just bonds you and creates this amazing wonder for the planet, her oceans and your place in it. Every new destination brought incredulity for our chance of being there, in that time and place, and it has been a joy to witness and live. I strongly believe our wonder will never cease, and that the call to wander will always call us for more, inevitably bringing our motley crew together again.
Thanks for everything, to amazing friendships and more adventures on Earth. Love, Abi
P.S.: I got a second hole in my earlobe so no full back tats yet.