Location: Georgetown, Grand Cayman
We woke up this morning at our usual 7 am time to the amazing smell of cinnamon sugar bread for breakfast thanks to our chefs of the day — Isaac, Drew, and Carolyn! During breakfast, we witnessed a massive cruise ship pull up and anchor right behind us. Unfortunately, we had to listen to the noise of the thousand-pound anchors dropping in the background of our breakfast conversations. After we finished eating, we had our SLD leadership class. Ian challenged our teamwork skills by having us split into our watch teams of five people each and complete the task given. At first, we were given spaghetti noodles and a handful of craisins and had to make the highest free-standing tower without it falling over. The competitive nature of all the shipmates definitely came out during this task! Watch team one won the first round of our spaghetti tower challenge with the tee-pee method. Our second challenge was the same task, but this time we got a meter of blue electrical tape to work with! Watch team two won the round with a tower 60cm high! After discussing as a group how we went about the different tasks, we learned that teamwork makes the dream work! We are always eager to apply our teamwork skills to raising and lowering the sails and being under passage. After class, we broke into the same two groups we were in yesterday. We switched schedules today for each group. Those that had shore time yesterday went scuba diving today, and the divers from yesterday had shore time today. The group with shore time got dropped off by dinghy. The divers threw on their bathing suits and started kitting up their dive gear, which is always a puzzle. Our first dive was our peak performance, buoyancy dive. We had a ton of fun swimming through hula hoops at different depths without using our arms and by controlling our place in the water only with our breathing. We also had to practice hovering and doing fin pivots. Every diver made it through the challenges successfully! After we finished our work for our advanced course, we had fun doing some flips underwater. A stingray even snuck up on us. We took off our fins for a couple of minutes on the shallow sandy bottom and pretended to run underwater. Everyone had a great time, laughing through their regulators underwater. After struggling to get back on the boat by climbing up the ladder with our heavy dive gear, we had fresh deli sandwiches for lunch. We took advantage of our safety interval time on board and taught Jason how to dive off the cap rail of the boat head-first. By the end of the day, he was a master! After a short nap on deck in the sunshine, we got ready for our second dive of the day. Katie, Emily, Jason, and I completed our research dive for our Oceanography research project while Ben, Keenan, and Conner had a blast exploring the reef. The diving in Grand Cayman the last two days have been nothing but incredible. There are so many different fish species along the coral reefs, and the coral is a beautiful purple and red color. On our second dive, we saw a Barracuda probably about 3 feet long! After getting back on the boat, the people that were on shore arrived in the dinghy with smiles on their faces. Most of them made a trip to the big grocery store on the island called Kirks to stock up for our upcoming two weeks in Cuba. The chefs made an amazing cajun mac n’ cheese for dinner. After dinner, we had an optional night on shore, though some of us are staying back to complete work and study for a marine bio exam we have tomorrow morning. After all, we’re working and studying on this boat — not just vacationing!