Location: Tobago Cays
Movie finished: ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ Wind: 36 knots. Location: 100 yards from a turtle sanctuary – 1 mile from Jack Sparrow’s island prison. 95% of the crew: sound asleep. And thus we transitioned from Day 39 to Day 40.
The best part of being skipper is seeing everyone’s smiles stretch across their cheeks as they roll over into the waking world (or, sometimes, burrow their heads back into their pillows), and halfway through the trip, I’m glad to say that those smiles were still wider than ever this morning. By the time everyone woke up, the wind had subsided considerably from last night, and though the sky was still hazy with petrified streaks of solemn gray clouds, the heat of the sun managed to seep through the thicket above, thawing our wind-battered deck and warming us up as we climbed through the companionway doors. We were all still half asleep at the front of the breakfast line, but with each stop along Izzy’s delicious buffet, a little ounce of drowsiness gave way to the excitement of fresh mango, the splendor of omelets, and the forebodingness of beans, until we emerged at the end, invigorated, hungry, and ready for the day before us.
We had a class-packed morning ahead of us, and after a quick cleanup, we shuffled downstairs for Marine Biology with Steve, where we learned about how biotic distributions vary across oceanic zones. Hot on Steve’s heels was Calum, who introduced us to the long-awaited Nav Master course during Seamanship. Now that we’ve all obtained our ICC and VHF certifications, the remainder of our time in Seamanship will be focused on this final navigation course, where we’ll learn to read charts, plot courses, and finally be the one person in the room who can explain what a nautical mile is. After classes finished at around 10:00, it was time for Lenox’s long-awaited nap, and as she shuffled off to the foxhole, Pearse, Zac, and Mike followed suit in their own bunks. For the rest of the morning, some people went about napping or working on their fish IDs while others made headway on the Challenge Course reflection essay, and by the time lunch was over, everyone was excited to head back out into the water to visit the turtles again. Julia and I were happy to spot the tailless ray, or “sea pancake,” that others saw yesterday, Riley was ecstatic to reunite with her friend Chip, a turtle who had unfortunately lost a small portion of its shell, and Isabel went about excitedly capturing it all on her camera. As we climbed back onto ‘Ocean Star,’ our noses were met with the unexpected smell of something baking in the galley, and not half an hour after returning from snorkeling with turtles, we were all sitting on deck eating banana-nutella muffins prepared most graciously by Calum and Izzy. We couldn’t let ourselves get too full, however, because at 4:45, it was time to head out for our 5:00 beach barbecue!
After Calum dropped us off at the little island upon which our barbecue was being held, we walked through a little path that took us to a beautiful beach with picturesque palm trees, playfully lapping waves, and an array of wooden picnic tables, behind which a steady stream of smoke rose from the humble shack where 20 fresh lobsters were being grilled by local fishermen. Roused by the wafts of herbs and seafood that filled the air around us, and hastened by the mosquitos nipping at our arms and legs, we sat down to eat as soon as the food came out, and once we were all full, headed out to the beach for our first squeeze outside of ‘Ocean Star.’ Because it was only 6:00, we had time to spare before heading back, and with everyone digesting their meal along the darkened coast, a roaming opossum scampering about our site, and a stingray and porcupine fish spotted in the surf, it was a wonderful end to another ideal day. In short, everything is great down here, and halfway through our trip, we’re still savoring every moment we have together in this beautiful place. Thank you all for making it possible for us to be here, and I wish you all a good evening.
1. Group photo before dinner
2. Waking up as we move through Izzy’s delicious breakfast spread
3. Pre-breakfast selfie
4. Jack Sparrow’s island prison
5. Sophie swimming to a turtle
6. Isabel chilling with her new pal
7. Luke diving down for a closer look
8. Riley learns to fly from Master Uguay
9. A closer look
10. Underwater snorkel party (Isabel, Sophie, Riley, and Julia)
11. On our way to the beach barbecue
12. Excited to be on shore for dinner
13. Preparing the lobster
14. Two posed and a candid
15. Chubs and the Barnacles
17. Izzy and Julia are ecstatic to see each other after months apart at sea
18. Dinner laid out
19. Margeaux presents her plate while Julia contrives to steal it
20. Jodie very happy with her lobster
21. Battle over the lobster
22. Beachside sunset
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