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The Trip of a Lifetime

By Jack Laurence, age 12
Posted Monday, May 9, 2005

We rode these waves like riding a ride at the amusement park. I thought it was fun and exhilarating, but my mom didn't fare as well.

It was a nice crisp cool morning and I was packing my bags for a week-long sailing trip from my home city, Seattle, to the San Juan Islands and back. The whole reason that my mom, my sister and I were going was because a family invited us. Well, enough small talk. Once we loaded the car, we headed to the docks. On the way to the docks, I was quite nervous, but then again, kind of excited because I had only gone sailing once before, when I took a sailing class. About 20 minutes later, I could make out a couple of boats bobbing up and down like corks. We parked the car and loaded our gear into the carts where we would push them to the boat.

Once we got to the boat and looked around, I was in awe of the boat's fiberglass hull, wood railing and magnificent cabin. Finally, after about one hour of loading and instructions, we got underway with Jay, the dad, at the helm. I was at the bow taking in the sun. The salt water splashed in my face as the boat sliced through the waves, leaving the harbor and going up the east side of Whidbey Island. It was the spray of freedom adventure and bravery!

After about two hours had gone by, Jay called me over to drive the boat. It was such an honor to be in charge of this 40-foot sailboat for the first time. The task was a big responsibility but I felt so free, like a kite in the wind.

I was having so much fun that the days went by quite quickly as we went from port to port. Up to this point, the weather had been great and no one had become sea sick. On the third day of our trip, however, I woke up to the violent movement of the boat, slipped into my clothes, stuck my head out the hatch and a spray of sea water hit my face. There were walls of water towering six to seven feet high and then suddenly disappearing again into the water. So I waited nervously about 30 minutes, trying to be polite to our host, wondering if we would get out of the harbor. Before long, everyone was up, so we quickly got on our raingear, which took a bit of time. After that, we made sure that everything was tightly secure and got out of the harbor.

Once we were out, I took the helm as Jay plotted our course. Hour after hour after hour the boat went up and down. We rode these waves like riding a ride at the amusement park. I thought it was fun and exhilarating, but my mom didn't fare as well. She got seasick, but no one else did.

Eventually, we got out of the storm as we docked in Port Townsend for the night. In the morning, we ate breakfast, got on our raingear and listened to the weather report. "Wind 40 mph, with 15-foot swells . . . small craft advisory," said the radio announcer. Then I realized I was about to endure one of the biggest storms I have ever seen. The next thing I knew, I was gripping the ropes that were nearest to me with rain hitting my face like needles. The water washed over the side of the boat. It was so rough that all the books and luggage fell off the shelves, making a mess. After 9 hours of wind, waves and adventure, we arrived in Seattle at the harbor where we started. I was so relieved that we made it through that storm! We unloaded the boat, swabbed the deck, got in the car and pulled away from the harbor. Then I realized that this was the trip of a lifetime and I'll never forget it.

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