Blair Potter is an adventurer who found her love of the sea and the ocean during a semester sailing the Atlantic Ocean. She is also a brand ambassador for Hedge New York and we are excited to include her as part of our #SportingGirlGang.
Throughout my life, my summers have always revolved around the water. Whether it be swimming in the ocean for hours on end, only ever getting out to reapply sunscreen, or being out on the bay, boating or sailing. For three years I had done sailing camp at our community yacht club, which for me was less about the sailing and more about hanging out with my friends while we attempted to sail a JY-14. Considering this, if someone had told me years ago that for my junior year of high school I would go abroad on tall ship, I would have NEVER believed them.
During the spring of my sophomore year, I had decided I wanted to spend my junior year abroad. Originally, my intentions were to live and study in France, until I unexpectedly came across this program called Class Afloat. The thought of spending nine months out on the Atlantic Ocean seemed way too intimidating, but I came to the realization that traveling to 20+ different countries would be an even more incredible experience.
Although my parents could not afford the tuition, it was an assuredly hopeless attempt to erase the idea of this program from my mind. Just forty days before the ship would set sail from Amsterdam, I decided to create a GoFundMe campaign. After informing my Head of Schools of this, she promised to hold my spot, which still surprises me to this day. Fast forward thirty days and miracles had happened; my campaign raised enough money to make the deposit that would allow me to board the ship in September. With thirteen days before the program would commence, my name appeared on the student crew list for the class of 2018.
During the beginning of my nine month journey, it was the traveling that excited me and furthermore, the idea of getting to land. Within three months though, that changed. Although appreciative for everywhere that we traveled, what I truly miss the most is living at sea. Looking out to open ocean with nothing in sight other than the breathtaking hues of blue. Waking up to dolphins or whales swimming beside the ship as she breaks through the ten foot waves with her steel hull. Being completely detached from technology and the materialism of our society. Enthralling right? This was just an average day at sea.
One of my biggest conflicts about leaving for Class Afloat had been the idea of not being able to run everyday. Going into my freshman year of high school, my indecisive adolescent self had made this spontaneous decision to join the cross country team instead of continuing with soccer. Learning to love running, however, has been one of the greatest skills I have acquired. Running keeps me in shape but most importantly, running has showed me how crucial it is to think positively to achieve something that may be difficult. Although the ship was not big enough to have a track, some of us settled by starting a running club in which we would run before breakfast every morning we were in port.
Typically, people ask me “how was that cruise you went on?”, but what they don’t realize is that sailing aboard the Gulden Leeuw was far from glamorous. Living within sixty meters of sixty other people, there was no personal space, we went without showers for sixteen days and had to wash our dishes with boiling seawater at times, we had bedbugs the entire four months of second semester, and we had to perform two hours of day and night watch every twenty-four hour period, all on top of attending school. Despite the fatigue, the nausea, and the frustrations, I still would not trade this experience for anything.
Today, the memories stick with me while the locations of where those memories happened tend to blur together. Sailing out in the middle of the ocean is something that words will never be able to express, which is why one can only understand how incredible it is until they experience it themselves.
Growing up by the water definitely serves as the reason behind my cravings for adventure. Although it seemed that Class Afloat would ease my longing for travel, it has done nothing but make me want more. There is something about the food, the different languages, the fashion, and the architecture that make me love traveling. Even though my home will always have an irreplaceable spot in my heart, my nine month journey made me realize that home will always be there waiting for me and to instead carpe diem.