Location: West End

The end of the program is always bittersweet. It’s thrilling to reflect upon the growth of our shipmates and the development of such close friendships between them. On the other hand, it’s sad to think that, in less than 24 hours, Distant Drums will be bereft of one of the finest crews I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I truly cannot say enough good things about the funny, kind, caring individuals I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a home with throughout these past few weeks. It’s a wonderful and rare thing when even we as staff members feel like a real part of such a cohesive team, and I’m happy to have had that experience this session. Throughout it all, our shipmates never ceased to impress. Pando was always up and helping out on the deck and after meals, even with an injured thumb. Rachel took to every new activity like a fish to water, never saying no’ without giving something a try. The same went for Kat, who jumped headlong into every dive and sail with quiet enthusiasm. While Julien became an impressive sailor through spending many voluntary hours at the helm, Ella and Jess honed their dive skills to the point that, when they each turned 15, they were finally permitted to start diving without the help of an instructor. Jack displayed his prowess in the galley each time he was called upon as chef, even turning out a special bean casserole of his creation on Mexican Night. Whether in the galley, on deck, or below, Simon and Andy’s witticisms and one-liners had us laughing so hard our cheeks hurt. None of us smiled as wide as Kelly, however, whose infectious smile and laughter always managed to bring up the crew’s spirits. Brooke worked hard this session to become a self-sufficient diver, learning how to safely set up and haul her kit without outside help or commentary. That said, self-sufficiency can be a hard thing on a boat like Distant Drums, especially when one bumps into Jimmy at every turn, who always offers a helping hand.

Help was particularly appreciated on race day, when the four dive side cats raced from Road Town, past Great Harbor, to the Bight at Norman Island. Cole, our skipper, revisited his racing roots and kept us steady at the helm to the end. Today we’re back where we started from, on the dock in West End. Although the scenery is familiar, so much has changed since we were here last. Twenty-one days ago, we boarded Distant Drums as a group of strangers. Today we feel like family. To my shipmates and fellow staff: you have all been a joy to work with. Best of luck to all of you: safe travels, stay in touch, stay awesome.