Location: Les Saintes, Guadeloupe
Ahoy from France and a Storm! Before I get into the day, I think it’s important to set the scene at the time of writing this: Right as I went into the chart house to begin typing, a huge storm hit us, and everyone was told to shelter inside as lightning struck around us and winds whip the boat. Ok, now back to your regularly scheduled skipper log: We start our morning off sleepy and exhausted from yesterday (At least I did, especially since I didn’t even realize I was skipper this morning until breakfast time) but got the day rolling with some yogurt and granola from our head chef Jake. Today is dedicated to getting some much-needed rest and recovery after all the exhausting sailing and excursions in Dominica, but first was Oceanography class and Seamanship class! We got to learn about the awesome powers of the Coriolis force and all the trade winds we’ve been using to sail with on this trip so far, as well as our radio exam and learning how to read and plot on maps for Seamanship! After class, we rewarded ourselves with a dip in the ocean to cool off after being stuffed in the sweaty saloon for a few hours, and Ari learned how to do a backflip which he seemed very proud of. After a quick break for lunch, the fun part of the day could begin! Our afternoon was a dedicated “choose your own adventure” type day, and most people decided the kind of adventure they needed most right now was relaxing on the shores of France at the nearby beach while others went swimming in the waters above the coral reefs lining the beach and exploring the trails leading to an old fort on the top of the island. While others enjoyed basking in the afternoon sun, Lauren, Desmond, and I kitted ourselves up for our final step in becoming Advanced Open Water Certified: Deep Diving! We took our first narc test (A nitrogen narcosis test designed to see if you’ve been narced, basically a field sobriety test for SCUBA diving), found a cherry tomato from the galley, and jumped in the water, ready to descend! After a brief replacement of Desmond’s regulator, we floated down our descent line to nearly 80ft and took our narc test again to wonderful news: we hadn’t been narced on our descent and actually sped up our times. We then carefully observed Lauren’s cherry tomato and its lack of redness at depth before swimming around and exploring the small patches of coral scattered about our anchor lines among the seagrass beds. I ran out of air first, as always, and we ascended back to the surface where we were knighted by Ash and his inflatable SMB as Advanced Open Water Divers. Diving had only just begun for us, however, as we switched our tanks over and, after a brief surface interval, took our dinghy Exy out to a nearby coral reef, along with some science equipment, to go on our first solo dive without an instructor to gather data for our research project! Our project is correlating fish populations with salinity, water temperature, and O2 concentration, so we got to enjoy a relaxed, fun dive where we swam about the reefs writing down data on our underwater slate and counting all the fun fish we saw (As well as a moray on the move, a pufferfish, and a stingray, so cool!). Now late in the afternoon and the sun setting over Les Saintes, we returned to OceanStar in chaos as the beachgoers worked to move our anchor lines after they got twisted up somehow over the course of the day. With anchors secured and the ship no longer endlessly spinning in our anchorage, we settled in for dinner as Elodie, and I asked our dual squeeze questions: Who do you most want to get to know better on the boat, and if you could go back in time, when and where would you go?