Location: English Harbour, Antigua
Crewing Oceanstar for a few weeks has taught me to embrace any and all adventurous opportunities. So when Cap’n Smudge invited us out for a morning hike to Pigeon Beach I couldn’t say no! Everyone hiking quickly realized that Smudge’s idea of a “flip-flop hike” was quite different from our own, but it was still a lot of fun scrambling over rocks and splashing through muddy puddles in flip-flop footwear, catching the occasional attention of passing goats. Once at Pigeon Beach, a wild combination of chicken fights and rugby coaching took up the entire morning. No towels were necessary, even after hours of cavorting in the ocean, because a passing low-pressure system kept us soaked to the bone with periodic rain showers.
Once the whole crew was reunited on the boat, we were treated to an incredible meal of chicken stew, homemade bread (!!!), and herb cream cheese from our chef of the day, Amanda. From day one, our staff has emphasized the importance of the chef’s job, claiming that they have the biggest impact on the mood of the day…the delicious-ness of Amanda’s meal certainly proved that.
For most, the afternoon was a quiet one, time to relax and soak in the charm of Nelson’s Dockyard for one final day. Only the Divemasters-in-training and their two simulation victims hopped on a dinghy and went diving. Reviewing all twenty-four Open Water skills was a fun challenge for those practicing and those demonstrating. Of course, once the skills were completed, we were free to have a fun dive. Somehow, three of us ended up wearing our fins on our hands, practicing underwater handstands and moonwalks, and exploring a shallow wreck full of butterfly fish. We were welcomed back on board Ocean Star for gluten-free brownies to celebrate Annemarie’s birthday!
The evening activity was a huge highlight. Everyone dressed up and hiked up to eat and dance at Shirley Heights, an old British fortress that now holds bi-weekly barbecues. Despite having just watched a grisly video about overfishing, lots of crew enjoyed the local fish burger with their smoothies and daiquiris. Live performers played steel drums, tourists shook maracas and a DJ sang his heart out on stage to get everyone dancing. We all let loose and danced around, especially Smudge and Annemarie! I made a fool of myself for trying to dance with an enthusiastic elderly local, but provided plenty of laughs for my crew. All in all, Shirley Heights was the perfect ending to a slightly extended stay in Antigua.