by Conrad Carr
This was my first time actually sailing. I've lived for weeks at a time out on catamarans in Indonesia hunting swell, but that was a different story. I was just eating, sleeping, and surfing all day. Out here I feel like an actual sailor, a bad sailor, but a sailor with a cause.
December 12th 2015, I flew in to San Felipe in the smallest "commercial" plane in the world over desert and huge white mountains, not white with snow, but sand. We landed at an "airport" that was literally one quarter mile long air strip road. If you were to see this airport you would think it was some farmer's barn out in the middle of the desert by the sea. A 24-year-old amigo named Sabino picked me up in a taxi and told me something about "playas bonitas." Sabino took me to the beach where I jumped on a dingy with JP and Carolina and headed for the boat. I got my shoes all wet. We motored up to the Martin Sheen, a massive "pirate" ship, gold and elegant. I climbed aboard and felt like young Jack Dawson, when he first got on the Titanic, young, wild and free. I met the crew, learned the safety precautions, and got my watch hours of 12 am to 3 am and 12 pm to 3 pm, where I am to scan the horizon for enemy boats by night and vaquita porpoises by day. After dinner I went out on the deck and watched the stars. I've never seen the sky so vast, so open, so beautiful. The Big Dipper was right above the ocean. The Milky Way was clear as day. There were a million stars in the sky as we sailed across somewhat bumpy seas.
All the people aboard the Martin Sheen are pretty legendary. I've been on here for a few days and it feels like a lifetime, not because I don't like it but because usually there's no internet and I'm on watch looking for vaquita hours and hours a day. It gives me time to think and just stop and pause, take a look at my life. These guys consecrate their lives to the well being of the ocean. It's pretty amazing. I'm happy to do my small part. I got selected by just being in the right place at the right time. My best friend's mom Pam just joined the Sea Shepherd board and she thought I would be a perfect match. My love for the ocean, experience on the water, and years of surfing seemed a good start for being a Sea Shepherd.
I grew up in Malibu. I started surfing when I was 12, and I never looked back. I loved surfing more than anyone else. I surfed all day every day for years. Even if there were no waves, I would go out and sit and wait for waves. I was devoted, a true soul surfer, not to say I didn't love competing and having sponsors; that all came with it. I rode for Quiksilver for 6 years, surfed in contests up and down the California coast every weekend, and got to travel the world. South Africa and Indonesia were my two favorite places. Since I started surfing, my love for waves and for the ocean in general has grown. I would see dolphins almost every day, and the more I saw them, the more I fell in love with them. The way they would jump, and surf, and ride waves, and maybe even make love, were such expressions of life and beauty; I wanted to be close to them, befriend them, and swim with them. Every time they came near, I would paddle out, ditch my surfboard, swim down and make dolphin noises. I remember feeling a special connection with the dolphin.
This was just one experience with marine life and surfing that has helped fuel my love for the ocean and its inhabitants. I hope I can do my part to help the aqua life, and I definitely am looking up to everyone on board as my example. These Sea Shepherd sailors are true heroes. I watch them tirelessly strive to save the vaquita dolphins. It's hard to directly save a vaquita, but indirectly they all do so much to ensure their survival. It's a fighting case, almost a long shot for the 100 remaining vaquita, but with faith and diligence of heart-felt people like Captain Oona, I believe these dolphins will see a new dawn, and we'll see them in a happier lighter light, abundantly swimming through the Sea of Cortez and maybe beyond.