Location: St Pierre, Martinique

No one from back home will believe me that Caribbean air can be crisp, but this morning, when I came on deck, that is exactly what it felt like to me. The jungly, green hills and imposing volcano of Martinique, Mt Pel, lay decorated with wispy tendrils of mist. Drifting coconuts bobbed along in a glassy sea. Joseph, Nate, and a few of our other morning birds greeted me with friendly smiles and hearty good mornings. Feeling bad for setting Matt loose on them the last time I was skipper, I went down into the fo’c’s’le and let Josh, Brit, and Kaiden wake up slowly to “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King. Once they looked awake enough to comprehend my reminder to get straight into swimsuits and ready for diving, I moved on to the salon to wake the rest of the student body. Miranda, already well awake and reading on the cushioned bench, requested I play “My Heart Will Go On” next. And so, Celine Dion and Miranda Miguel belted out across the distance until all students, near, far, wherever they were, woke up.

After breakfast and clean up, both livened up by intermittent showers, Ridge, Nate, Brit, Matt, Kaiden, and Jill, led by Amanda, set out for the nearby dive site to complete their Peak Performance Buoyancy dive for their Advanced Open Water certification (or for extra fun and practice for Jill and Kaiden). After descending, the divers played a variety of games set up for them by Amy and Amanda to help them practice their buoyancy control. They swam through floating hoops without touching the edges. They hovered cross-legged a foot above the bottom as the dive instructors put and took away dive weights from their hands. And my personal favorite, they swam nose first down to a dive weight sitting on the bottom to touch it with their regulator before inhaling just enough to rise a bit and swim to the next dive weight and repeat the process. Their buoyancy was well under control. The divers then swam around the fragmented pieces of a wreck from the early 20th century. When they came back, Matthew, Miranda, Steff, Joseph, Jade, Eli, and I got to go with Amy and Josh, our very own divemaster assistant. We saw three different kinds of eels, an octopus pulsing different colors as it sat on the grassy seafloor, a cowfish, and so many other fish we less commonly see. Floating back up to the surface, you could see fat raindrops hitting the water. And of course, once back in the dinghy, we got a free freshwater rinse. Big thanks to Jon for braving the rain and sitting surface for both of our dives this morning.

With everyone already sopping wet, Steffen decided to take us straight to the beach for a team-building game as part of his leading class discussion in leadership today. Called Greasy Melon, or in this case, Greasy Coconut, it consisted of working together to play rugby-football with a coconut slathered in Crisco while standing in knee-deep water. If you thought football takes coordination normally, wait until you add some Crisco and water. Laughing, exhilarated, sandy, and greasy, we then sat down for a discussion on community building.

Despite all the morning’s excitement, the students still had enough energy to go to shore for some exploration. It sounds like they spent the afternoon searching for pastry shops, ordering unknown items in french restaurants, eating baguettes, and some made it to the town museum. Used to the islands we have been to thus far, the students seemed a bit shocked that barely any of the locals spoke English. It seems to have only heightened the sense of adventure.

The students are currently sitting in Oceanography learning about hurricanes, and I assume they will scurry to bed after in preparation for another early start tomorrow.

Well, that’s all the news from Ocean Star, where all the coffee is strong, all the backflips are good-looking, and all the shipmates are above average.

Pictured: Ridge and Josh getting ready to go diving; Amanda and Amy giggling about all the buoyancy games they were about to play; divers about to descend; Kaiden and Nate looking excited about diving; Amanda taking Jill, Jade, Miranda, Nate, and Matthew to shore for their afternoon of exploring; Amanda, Steffen, Matthew, and Josh sharing some fresh baguettes back onboard this afternoon; Joseph, Matthew, Miranda, Kennedy, Jon, Kaiden, and Brit arriving back to Ocean Star after enjoying the afternoon onshore.