Being left alone in the Pacific, has left me relieved, scared, and thinking about my future. When I returned to Peace, I met a group that helped me fix my goal. In this excerpt from Brandon Webb’s The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen, I will tell you about how I returned to the Peace from the Pacific and the encounter that made me decide to become a SEAL.

Tahiti to Hawaii

Tahiti, age 16, and just decided to leave home after a big fight with my father. Home was afloat my family sailboat, “AGIO.” I was off to Hawaii on a boat that needed crew for the journey.

In a way, I was relieved. The tension between us had grown unbearable, and I knew that if we hadn’t parted ways, something really bad would have happened, and it would have caused irreparable harm to both of us, and for sure to our relationship.

Still, I was somewhat in shock at what had happened. I was also scared.

In later years we would reconnect and rebuild our friendship, but for now, my father wanted nothing to do with me. My mom knew there was no reconciling us at that point, but she did what she could to make sure I would be okay. She knew that if I could make my way home, Bill Magee would take me in and look after me. Before I left Tahiti, she helped me get a radio call patched through to Ventura so we could fill him in on my situation. She also helped me secure passage on the Shilo, a 40-foot catamaran headed north for Hilo, Hawaii, a journey of nearly 3,000 miles. My boatmates were a family of three: a couple and their three-year-old boy. The mom’s hands were pretty full, taking care of their infant son, and they had been looking for crew. I stood the midnight shift, which left me plenty of time to think about the future.

In a way, I didn’t blame my father for throwing me off the family boat. It felt like the only possible thing to do. My mom was completely torn up and had pleaded and pleaded with him to relent, yet I think she also realized that there was no going back.

During the day on the Shilo, I was either asleep or occupied with the practical matters of the boat. During the nights, I was alone with my thoughts. Those nights were rough. Rhiannon and I had been a lot less close since we’d both become California teenagers with our own sets of friends—but she was my sister and had been a part of my life since as early as I could remember. Now she was gone. My whole family was gone. I was alone. Those first few nights on that 40-foot cat, I cried myself to sleep.

As I said, I was scared, too, but I told myself I had to get past being scared. When I did, I found that a part of me was excited about whatever lay ahead. I knew my life had hit a major turning point. I’d had experiences most other sixteen-year-olds had not. Still, I was far from an adult. I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet.