Location: St. Barth's

Being on the dock makes wake-ups easy as everyone is already awake to get that yummy French pastry in before the day officially starts at 7:30 am. Everyone is really enjoying the freedom of being able to step off the boat during free time, and my bank account is feeling the easy availability of good coffee and baguettes here!

After an impromptu man-overboard this morning (Carolyn’s water bottle made a bid for freedom, but don’t fear Nate came to the rescue with the boat hook!!), our day started with Oceanography followed by Leadership. Within the Oceanography class, each student gives a 10-minute presentation on a topic of their choice that relates to one of the formal lectures given by Amanda. Today it was Matthew’s turn, and his topic was artificial reefs. As the current environmental conditions make life harder for corals to survive, artificial reefs are becoming incredibly important to help re-build and populate damaged areas. Corals support a huge amount of life and are important for so many reasons, including protecting against coastal erosion and providing a food source for a huge proportion of the population. As a result, coral reefs are a vital component of our world and one of my favorite animals. However, I will admit they are pretty picky! They need a delicate balance of various environmental conditions, including warm (but not too warm) water, a hard substrate, and an area low in nutrients. As a result, growing them is by far no mean feat. They really do require ‘gardening’ to keep the algae and coral-eating organisms at bay. The timing of Matthew’s lecture was perfect as here in St Barths, there is a coral nursery at the site we have been diving. There are two large Christmas tree-like structures from which the coral fragments are hung in addition to a metal tent-like grid, which also has a lot of coral attached to it. The coral fragments are grown in this nursery area until they are slightly larger when they can then be replanted back onto the reef. When well managed and carefully thought out, they can be successful in helping to replenish damaged coral reefs and also reduce stressors such as diver presence on already struggling reefs.

After lunch, it was time for more diving. Miranda and Matt went diving while Kaiden and Carolyn snorkeled above them. They got to see the artificial reefs close up and also got to see some of the areas where the coral had been replanted back onto the reef. Afterward, it was the rescue divers and our divemaster in training (DMT) Josh’s turn to dive. Amanda and I split the rescue divers into two groups so that half could be practicing their rescue skills while the others helped me out with Josh’s course. As part of the DM training today, Jill, Stef, and Joseph pretended to be divers who had not been diving for many years and needed a refresher course. Josh’s job was to establish what skills they needed and wanted to practice and then take them out to practice those skills and get them comfortable, correcting any problems they may have. On the surface, Nate, Ridge, and Brit learned how to get a diver from the water into the dinghy – sounds simple but trust me when you only have 30 seconds, and you need to make sure you’re keeping their head above water at all times it was no mean feat!!!

Kennedy, Jade, and Eli got some work done onshore this afternoon, and on return to the boat, we were greeted by a wondrous sight of Miranda, Kennedy, Matt, and Jon walking down the dock with some beautifully folded clean laundry!

As I write this, everyone is working on the concept, of course, to steer for seamanship – I hope they nail it (which I’m sure they will) as we have our first student-led passage coming up on Sunday, which will be exciting 🙂

This will be the last from me as we realized today that with only 15 days left of the program, we are getting close to that weird “last time of doing something”! Time has flown by, and it’s crazy to think how far we have all come as a crew. Still, so many more adventures still to have before then, though! 🙂

– Amy

Hi everyone back home, I love and miss you lots 🙂 XXXX

Pictured: Nate rescuing Carolyn’s water bottle; Kennedy, Matt, Miranda, and Jon bringing clean laundry back to Ocean Star; Matthew giving his oceanography presentation on artificial reefs; Ocean Star at sunset; Amy and Amanda before rescue class; the whole group in the salon for class.