Location: Nevis, St. Kitts
Emerged from the companionway this morning to find that Hammock City (population 8, Alex Meyer Mayor) set up on deck late last night (thanks Hedrek) had fallen to a terrible force of nature: a light drizzle. Only three hammocks remained, with everyone else sleeping sound and damp in their bunks. I sang “Oh, what a beautiful morning” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! to wake the boat up, but I’m not sure how effective that truly was. O-star had my back, though, ensuring that the whole crew was awake with an ear-splitting bilge alarm ten minutes later. The bilge alarm alerts us that one of the compartments in the bottom of the boat, called bilges, is filling with water. It’s also deafening. We usually ignore it, and Hedrek fixes it 🙂 after a lovely oatmeal bake courtesy of Rae’s galley gang, everyone got shuttled to shore for a day of excursions. We’re finally cleared in, meaning we can set foot on land! Over the last few days, we students have been trying to decide on two of three activities to take on. The options were biking, kayaking, and guided horseback riding. The decision was made when Kris, one of the Seamester top dogs, told Sam that the bicycle excursion was incredibly taxing and always had a casualty. So, Kelly, Alex, Sunny, Fizz, Ela, and Sprout (Amanda) picked up their paddles, and Sierra, Mackenzie, Savannah, Sarah, Rae, Brett, Sam, and I grabbed our bandanas and cowboy boots and headed up to a small horse corral.
We stepped into a yard-like area with horses in a fenced-in area across from us. The horses obviously caught our attention first, but a close second was a monkey in a little cage to one side of the area! He was bouncing around his cage, peering at us through the wire. Our guide, Erika (former St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic equestrian coach!), opened the door and let him out on a leash. We went crazy, fawning over him as he climbed over the cage structure. We learned his name was Squeaker, and he was a Green Monkey, ‘Chlorocebus sabaeus.’ Brett and Squeaker really hit it off, despite Squeaker’s shy nature. Squeaker climbed briefly on his hand and even touched Brett’s hair! I pinky promise I did not fight Squeaker or any other animal we saw today (*ahem* Sunny and Mackenzie…) Then we got on our horses. Sam on Little Princess, Sierra on Hawk (and we all love Hawks, so we were all very jealous of Sierra), Savannah on Black Onyx, Myself on Maka Chicle (chewing gum), Rae on Bart (renamed by Rae), and Mackenzie on Emilio Jay. This was Brett’s first time riding a horse (go Brett!), so he was placed on the best-named horse of all…Baby Boy. Erika would call instructions to us using our horse’s name, so Brett became “Baby Boy” for the whole ride, and we loved it!
We rode along dirt paths, paved roads, past sugar mill ruins from the 1800s, and a church built in the early 1600s…the oldest operational church in the Caribbean! We also rode on the beach! The island is gorgeous and very cool to see from inland after a week of being anchored in the bay. We returned to the corral, Brett said goodbye to Squeaker, and we jumped in the taxi to reunite with Team Kayak.
The Kayaks, as relayed to me by Fizz:
The kayak rental guy gave them the code to the shed and left, so Team Kayak must give off very trustworthy vibes. They had three two-person kayaks, and they raced, paddled, and found a hidden beach to hang out on! They climbed some rocks, had a sand fight (which Alex apparently won), and returned. As they paddled back, they realized that they were moving downwind. Struck by inspiration, Alex, Kelly, Fizz, and Sunny lashed their kayaks together with lifejackets, and Kelly and Alex stood their paddles up in the back of the kayak with their sun shirts stretched between them to act as a sail…and the kayaks began to move! Alex and Kelly cheered as the kayaks were propelled towards the dock…perhaps they didn’t see Sunny and Fizz discretely paddling on the other side of the sun shirt sail…They arrived back at the dock powered by wind and innovation (mostly) and were picked up by our taxi. Full house!
Now that we’re all together again, we were dropped off near the dock where we arrived and had lunch on shore! Always a treat. We returned to Ocean Star around 2:00 and put together dive kits for another afternoon of rescue diving! This was a more intense day. We practiced in-water rescue breaths. You need to keep your victim’s (official PADI terminology, I promise) head out of the water, keep waves out of their airways, remove their dive kit and yours, swim back to the boat, and call for help, all while giving them rescue breaths (non-contact for practice purposes) every five seconds. It’s really hard, especially positioning yourself in a way to get access to their airways for rescue breaths since there’s no solid surface to push up on. Being the victim meant a *lot* of seawater up the nose, but it’s a crucial skill to practice, and the staff said they were very impressed by our mad rescue skillz. There was also a third person whose role was “ocean.” They were tasked with holding onto discarded masks and weight belts, which is a real-world scenario would be dropped to the bottom, but which we don’t want to lose during training because that would make Ash very sad.
Dinner was a very tasty stir fry, and Oreos and Reese’s peanut butter chips for dessert. People are now hard at work on homework since we have a bunch of schoolwork coming up: group research projects, Navmaster exam, final ID logbook, final leadership essay, and more are coming soon to an O-star near you.
We’re having a blast out here on Starship, and there are so many cool things yet to do! We’re less than two weeks out from the program end, and people have already started to get jobs for the last time. This is my final skipper day of the trip. I want to take this last paragraph to express my appreciation for Seamester and my parents for making this experience possible, for Heddy, Sprout, Ash, and Sam for putting in literal 24/7 work to make this program safe, meaningful, and fun, and for the student crew: a group of amazingly talented, interesting, joyful, dedicated people who make up the core and spirit of Ocean Star. These three months have been a once-in-a-lifetime treasure, and I’m looking forward to sharing the next twelve days with you all.
Thanks for bearing with me,
1) A dim photo of the Hammock City skyline last night
2) Hammock City post-rain
3) Not throwin’ away my shot: Apparently, Alexander Hamilton was born here!
4) Brett to Squeaker communication
5) The Cowstars!
6) Erika leading us up a dang mountain
7) The oldest operational church in the Caribbean!
8) Erika, Sierra, and Rae lead the horse train along the beach
9) Kayaction shot of Sprout and Ela
10) Some land ever…
11) Secret beach!
12) Alex inspects a boulder
13) The climbers are triumphant! Alex, Kelly, Amanda, Fizz, and Ela
14) Waterfront road, complete with cannons and flags
15) Cap’n Kelly brings out the big guns
16) Finder’s keepers! Sunny, Fizzy, Bretty, Alexy, and Macky debate the best way to get the cannon on O-star