Location: Port Elizabeth, Bequia

This morning the crew woke up to another day in the sleepy former whaling community of Bequia. This island is one of the staffs favorite spots and is quickly becoming a favorite of the crew as well. Today is actually a welcomed bonus day for us here because Fed Ex was not open until Monday and a repair part was expected for Irving (our rescue dinghy). In case you were wondering what Fed Ex in Bequia is like, it is one very nice old lady in a T-shirt shop with and old rusty scale and packages behind the counter. After breakfast our marine biology class focused on our upcoming week in St. Lucia. We will be participating in Reef Check dives in the Soufriere Marine Protected Area starting tomorrow on our arrival in St. Lucia. Soufriere is a worldwide success story of Reef Check and MPAs so it will be an honor to participate in the program. One of the perks aboard the school ship Ocean Star is that we will be diving in places that are normally off limits to most people. After class the crew was given shore time until dinghy pickups at 4:30pm by the gingerbread restaurant. However, Eric and myself were fortunate to be able to squeeze in a couple more dives before lunch. On our first dive we collected sediment samples from a given point in support of a former Seamester scientists research project. She will be analyzing the sediment for signs of runoff from shore construction and pollution. The majority of the samples were taken yesterday and the remainder of the samples were taken today. As a reward for our hard work collecting sediment Eric and I dove on an old tugboat wreck at about a fifty foot depth. A few of the organisms we saw included yellowline arrow crabs, queen angelfish, various groupers, and a huge barracuda. We finished our dives and arrived on shore to meet some of the crew at Port Hole for a well needed roti. The majority of us ordered the lobster Roti which was extremely tasty and filling with a surprisingly good amount of lobster. This of course was washed down with whatever fresh fruit juices you preferred. Although I love passion fruit juice, today I went with the fruit punch which had a nice thick consistency straight from the blender. Some crew members spent the afternoon in an open air taxi truck on a driving tour around the island. I personally spent the afternoon sitting by the harbor reading the Caribbean Compass which is a monthly yachting newspaper for the area. Bequia is an extremely relaxing island to be on and it was nice just to be able to chill out for an afternoon. Sometimes the tempo of our program does not allow for much relaxation time. Reading the local paper is also great for keeping up with the hot topics of the area. One interesting topic is the fact that many of the islands have recently voted in favor of lifting the ban on whaling. This has been linked to the equivalent of over 100 million US dollars in aid and new fisheries built by Japan in recent years. This evening after dinner we prepared Ocean Star for our trip to St. Lucia. After our oceanography class we will be setting sails for an overnight passage. Speaking of perks aboard the Ocean Star how about waking up on another new island tomorrow? -Matt Johnson