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Location: Palmetto Point, Barbuda

“What’s a frigate bird?” somebody asked during this mornings’s briefing. A BIG bird, was Steve’s response. Barbuda has the western hemisphere’s largest frigate bird sanctuary, and it may be worth a visit for all of the ornithophiles amongst the crew. Mike’s pancake souffl had just been flattened by us hungry gannets, and the crew was eager to step ashore for the day to explore Barbuda. Ash, Adelaide and myself would remain aboard to keep an eye on things, and to work on our acrobatic act called The Backstays.

Splash went the anchor as breakfast cleanup was coming to a swift end, and everybody was rearing to get ashore. Trusty dinghy, Exy, ferried everybody in to the ferry dock, where we arrived rather soaked by the salty wind-whipped spray. This is now accepted as the norm, the salt water being a part of almost everything we do. It couldn’t dampen spirits though, as everybody dispersed across the flat island with various agendas in mind. Some would be seeking out the historically illusive and mythical Geocache, while others had fine dining in mind, some just a stroll and others still, a simple chilled Coca-Cola. I waved everybody off with a smile, and made my way back to Ocean Star to find Ash and Adelaide seated on the chart-house floor, each with a mug of coffee clutched close. We took a minute to sip our warm beverages, before tackling a few projects. Ocean Star’s wooden cap rail runs the full circuit of the deck, with similarly teak stanchions and a taff-rail surrounding the after end of the vessel. This timber feature has enormous aesthetic appeal to it, but does indeed require a fair bit of love and attention to keep it looking the part. A weekly coat of teak oil keeps it in decent condition, withstanding the harsh environment. I put on some awesome music from a new favourite band, District 53, whom I discovered recently on instagram, and with a slick beat and smooth vocals running in the background, we gave a quick wipe-down with mineral spirits and had it clear of dust and salt. In no time the three of us had slapped a fresh coat of oil into the grains. Next on our agenda was to run a halyard up the backstay (thin rope up the cable that holds the mast), from which the ensign (ship’s flag) should be flown. Ash had never been up the rig, but still, kindly declined the offer. Adelaide, however, has the type of nerve necessary for the job, nerve made of high-grade stainless steel. We fitted her into a backup harness and seated her in the canvas bo’sun’s chair, before hooking her up to the main halyard and hauling her a short way towards the heavens. She savoured the elevation, and entertained us on deck with her unique coos and wows of excitement. Back on deck, Adelaide sent the ensign back aloft, and Ocean Star was once again flying her colours.

Lunch was a quiet one for us on board, a couple of basic quessadillas to fill the gaps. We then carried on with a few smaller projects before a dinghy run back into the dock to retrieve the returning crew. All aboard again, and it was time for the Divemaster Trainees to return to the water with our instructors, Ash and Adelaide, while the rest of the crew took to completing their Oceanography Projects and presentations. Sunset was a stunner, closely followed by a moonrise on the opposite horizon. For a few brief moments, the moon was a fiery red in the waning twilight, and found itself pinched between the low cloud base and the eastern horizon of Barbuda. Everybody had returned with some fantastical stories, the excitement in their voices a clear tell of how wonderful their Barbudan Adventures had been. Some told tales of whimsical meals at beach restaurants, with lifetime quality food, while others ran like Forest to meet the kitesurfing instructors we had seen previously off of Cocoa Point. The Water And Burgers joint even got more business than it’s used to on a Monday afternoon, though today they didn’t have water…

Mike, Luke and Isabel put out a delicious pasta meal with fresh bread an increasingly popular option. Bellies were filled to bursting point, as they seem to be most days, and i was reminded of a classic Afrikaans saying, ” Magie vol, ogies toe,” meaning that once the grand day has been concluded with a grand meal, the eyes of the grand kings and queens will close, for they have full stomachs and are well satisfied.

PS. Hope you’ve been playing Norwegian Wood, Granny! I have… Love you xxx