How many straws do you have to remove from a bale of hay before it becomes something other than a bale of hay? At some point, you have a single straw. And after that, nothing. So clearly it is not always a bale.
In my opinion, working from nothing. You have nothing, a single straw, then some straw. The real question is when some straw becomes a bale. I think the bale is the form of the straw. And once you can realize that the straw has a form, that form is a bale.
Of course, we all wouldn’t recognize this straw at the same time as being a bale. That’s where the paradox gets subjective. The straw only becomes a bale when the observer can recognize the form of the straw as being a bale. So the ‘baleness’ of the hay depends on the ability to observe the form of a bale.
If a ship is made of 100 pieces and each piece has a replacement piece on board. Over the course of the voyage, each part that makes up the ship is replaced. Is it the same ship? If not, when did it become a different ship?
For the sake of your journey, you will make a single trip on a single ship. And I think it would be useful to just assume that these replacement parts, although not operational, are part of the original ship. That way, the ship is always intact. You are always on the ship you started on, although at the end of your journey, different parts are operational.
The ship is the vehicle of the voyage. And the voyage is singular. Thus the ship is singular. The pieces replaced had the potential to be replaced once the voyage began. Realizing that potential changed nothing about the vehicle itself. Potential was only realized.
In the same way, our bodies change as we age. Cells are replaced every so often, so that we truly are physically different people throughout our lives. But our form has a name, and that name does not change. We are a compilation of these changes.