Location: Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Not many 22-year-olds can claim a similar b-day to the one I just experienced. My b-day started at 12:00 am when I was awoken to a chorus of happy birthdays, a plate of chocolate chips arranged in a 22 shape, and a lighter held up to my face (which I was instructed to blow out). I was promptly ushered to my 12:00 – 1:30 am anchor watch by my B-day entourage, where we danced to Taylor Swift’s “22” and feasted on chocolate. After waking up at 7:00 am, we were treated to delicious banana pancakes made by Nick, and I was presented with my personalized B-day pancake. We then split into two dive groups, one who went diving in the morning before lunch and one that went diving after lunch. Marine Bio and Oceanography classes ran when we were not scheduled to dive. All of our newly certified open water divers are now starting their advanced open water certs, which means a lot of practice with breath control, mobility, energy conservation, and cool dives such as night dives in the future! We saw tons of sea creatures today, including an octopus, hermit crabs, conchs, stingrays, and our “pet” barracuda that’s been hanging around on the underside of Vela. Our science classes included taking water samples from different locations in the bay, and measuring salinity, depth, nitrogen levels, and dissolved oxygen levels. We also collected plankton in a plankton tow net and identified them under a microscope. Luckily, my science group was able to complete our measurement while snacking on mango sorbet. I was treated to a second B-day dive by Lizzy and Dylan, followed by a surprise cheesecake! Ryan (our resident cheesecake master) did admit that the crust was made with digestive cookies and that there wasn’t enough cream cheese for all the cakes; however, the crew kept coming back for seconds, thirds, and fourths (turns out digestive cookies are a stunning substitute for gram crackers). Hands down the best and most memorable birthday I have ever had. Each member of this crew helped make it happen, and each has an integral role in making this group the family that it is. ( A side note, there is talk of hosting a Gumbi brawl in my honor which would entail Izzy and Emma Sharpe once more donning the thick, red safety wetsuits and fighting it out until a victor arises).
Until next time I am skipper,