It was a bittersweet moment when Pheonix I finally sailed out of the harbour in Virginia earlier this week to kickstart its three-week journey to the Mediterranean Sea.
After months of planning and weeks of preparation, the dream that my wife and I had conjured up more than a year ago was finally coming to fruition.
But the sight of the boat’s deep red hull cutting across the water reminded me of the thousands of lives we are already too late to save.
Pheonix I will serve as our Migrant Offshore Aid Station throughout the summer, enabling us to surveil the Mediterranean Sea and provide assistance to would-be refugees making the treacherous crossing to Europe.
The start of our journey is bittersweet because we know that if we had arrived there only two weeks ago, we might have been able to save the 400 migrants whose boat sank late last month.
To date, more than 23,000 desperate men, women and children are believed to have drowned while trying to reach Europe from North Africa over the past 15 years.
Despite the evident dangers involved, experts predict even more migrant crossings this summer.
The good news is that our boat is now on its way. Every passing day, more people are enthusiastically asking to join our mission to help prevent more devastation at sea.
By mid-July, we hope to be able to start our first expedition. Equipped with life jackets, food, water and other humanitarian supplies, we will be in a position to help migrants survive their journey and ensure that people in peril are rescued.
It is impossible to say whether or not we will be successful in preventing more deaths at sea. For now, my only hope is to get there before any more tragedies take place.