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Location: Slipway, Antigua

Day 79 is the day we have all been dreading…packing day. Our day started with wakeups at 7 am, as usual, and I played Life is a Highway one final time. We quickly jumped into boat appreciation, dividing and conquering with some people tackling their bunks and bags and the rest spread about the boat cleaning every surface in sight: Sun protectant was put on the dinghies, rust stains were cleared from the deck, and even the anchor locker and lower laz got some love. Sea shanties were sung on repeat, and the yachts moving about Nelson’s Dockyard across the way provided lots of entertainment. Down below, people were busy shoving souvenirs and clothes (no matter how dirty) into their duffels and crossing their fingers for them to zip. We took a brief pause in the chaos for lunch, featuring an assortment of things cleared from the galley cabinets…garlic pitas, rice, vegetables, tofu, and Megan’s creation of the day: celery and peanut butter ants on a log. As our last boat meal, it was bittersweet, and we wrapped it up with one final “let’s clean up.” Clean-up consisted of the biggest salty pit crew Ocean Star has seen this semester…four salties, three dryers, an up gopher, and newly created roles of trash can manager and freshie dunker. Our daily jobs and the wheel will surely be missed. We washed what seemed like every dish in the galley, including the compost bin that lives on the deck, but before dumping the pits, Lucas decided to create the salty pit challenge and dump the gross, chunky food water on his head. Argo, are you up for the challenge? Back to cleaning we went, and before we knew it, the deck was spotless, and our bags were fully packed. We all ran to the shower to clean up and mustered in the cockpit one final time for a squeeze. In addition to our appreciation for the day, we also shared our appreciation of the trip, what we were most proud of, and the biggest thing we will take away from the experience. To bring our final squeeze to an end, the off was reversed, and we sealed it off with a crisp, iconic squeeze clap. For our last dinner together, we shared a fun sign-out night across the channel to a restaurant near Nelson’s Dockyard.

As my last day as skipper, here are a few final words. Seamester, thank you for the best experience of my life. In just 80 short days, Ocean Star became my home, and 16 strangers became practically my family. I will always cherish all of the memories: the mountains we climbed, places we explored, passages we sailed, the laughs we had, and the many night watches under the stars. Thank you to the most incredible team of staff: Freddie, Drew, Heather, and Megan. We cannot thank you enough for all that you have taught us and for making this trip better than any of us could’ve ever imagined. If you are reading this because you are thinking about applying to do this program, in the words of the best…don’t think, just do. I can assure you that you will be missing out if you don’t.

Signing off for the last time,

#16 – Alaina J.