Location: Virgin Gorda, BVI

After a quick breakfast and an hour ashore to prepare ourselves, we set off on our first long voyage to Nevis. The sails go up, and we organize into watch teams, the groups responsible for working in shifts to sail the ship for the next 36 hours straight. The hours blend together as the ship overtakes wave after wave after wave. The constant rocking causes a few members of the crew to go green in the face; the others take turns helming the ship, learning to steer all 89 feet of Ocean Star. We struggle to keep our meals from blowing away in the relentless wind, but we still find the time to come together as a crew and enjoy one another’s company.

While we were all chewing our spoonfuls of fried rice for dinner, one member of the group casually remarks, whale.
We were initially skeptical, but sure enough, after staring hopefully out toward the horizon, we spot the breaching tail of a whale. It surfaces several more times, eliciting excited gasps from everyone on board. For the remainder of the meal, all eyes are off the starboard side, watching closely for the spray of watermarking the whale blowholes.
After that, those who have the later watches retire early to get what sleep they can; others remain on deck to keep watch and do work as needed. The sun dips below the horizon in a beautiful rose-colored sunset, giving way to an uninterrupted sky of stars. The constellations are almost unrecognizable; theyre drowned out by the sheer number of glittering lights in the night sky. We steer using these glowing pinpricks as a reference, all the while watching the ocean around us for other boats. There are a few, a cruise ship whose lights reach the clouds and another sailing vessel off the stern. Other than that, its lonely and quiet everywhere else, but aboard Ocean Star.

Each watch team keeps watch for three hours before the other two teams take over to give them six hours to sleep. As midnight approaches, the end of our first day underway, my watch team checks the boat one more time then retires to our bunks to let the sea rock us to sleep.

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