Location: Gustavia, St. Barths

As skipper, one of my responsibilities is waking up everyone and getting them ready for the day. Today, I used that duty as a boost to push me to wake up earlier than usual and study for my marine biology exam. I was tired, but I had to wake up early anyways, so I might as well get some studying in there. After looking at the resources, I quickly realized I was not prepared for my exam at all. I knew some of the subjects, but I couldn’t remember most. So, I now had around thirty minutes before the day I started to go through all the materials if I wanted to get at least a decent grade on my exam. I’m sure that if I had paid more attention to class, I wouldn’t have been in that very stressful situation, but I just find it so hard to stay focused.

When we have a class up on deck, it’s so hot that it makes me sleepy, and when we have it down below, it’s also very warm and comfy. I’ve had to fight the urge to sleep during class multiple times, especially when I sit down on the saloon couch. Something about how the boat moves make taking a nap so easy, but choosing the wrong time to do it has consequences, and clearly, I was dealing with one of them. After thirty, very crazy minutes of trying to fit all section 3 of marine biology into my brain, It was finally time to wake up the rest of the crew. So, I took a flute that I bought in Dominica and started to play it in the most obnoxious way I could. I appreciate the skippers who are nice when waking everyone up, playing calming music and whispering to their ears, But I’m not like that. I play loud music, scream, sing, and create chaos; that’s how pirates wake up!!! (Maybe I’m a little bit of a monster). After waking everyone up, we had breakfast and then did our biology exam. Surprisingly, I think I did better than what I expected, but only time will confirm that. And then, after the exam, we started BA.

I don’t know if the other blogs have talked about it, but I will go through it one more time, just in case. BA stands for boat appreciation, and it’s on those days that we are tasked with cleaning the ships. And when I say all the ship, I mean ALL; deck, saloon, bilges, anchor locker everything. On the one hand, cleaning the Ocean Star is very rewarding, but on the other hand, I’m not a big fan of cleaning. However, this ship deserves to be bright and shiny, even if It’s exhausting. It has taken us through the roughest waves, coldest nights, and under the hottest sun. This ship is part of our crew, and we should take care of it as such. So, with that mindset, I got into cleaning. Jack, Ben, and I cleaned the bilges, which I seem to always end up doing in every BA. We all worked very hard, and I feel very proud of what we did. I think that cleaning the Ocean Star is a big part of what makes it feel like a home, and taking care of it makes us come together and bond. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been while cleaning the dishes or scrubbing the deck. I guess cleaning encourages you to open up and be more vulnerable, at least at a physical level.

After a very long BA, we put on our fancy clothes and headed to the dock at Saint Barth’s. Unlike many of the other places we have visited, Saint Barth’s is full of wealth. There are super yachts, fancy shops, restaurants, and very expensive properties. Walking around St Barth’s (at least for me) felt like going back home for a little bit, being around a more city-like area. I’ve come to appreciate nature more during my time at the Ocean Star, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the comfort towns and cities bring. We had dinner at a very fun burger place at Gustavia, with colorful lights and a retractable ceiling that came out if there was rain (so modern). I think it’s very interesting that an island like St Barth’s is so different from one like Dominica when they are so close to each other. The Caribbean is a place of contrast, with luxury and much lower incomes interacting next to each other every day. Most islands we have visited before St Barth’s are not nearly as modernized, but I still really enjoy what they bring; I guess it’s just a matter of being open to whatever may come.

After dinner, we went back to the Ocean Star and continued celebrating for the rest of the night. We sang and danced in the saloon until we couldn’t anymore; it was one of the best nights of my entire trip.

Being at St Barth’s today makes me reflect on what we take for granted, but beyond that, it makes me think about how appreciation and value change with place and time. Many islands in the Caribbean are not as rich as St Barth’s, but a lot of the people in those other places are very happy with what they have and don’t feel a need for more. I think I can relate more to that feeling now when with so little, I’ve been able to have an amazing time. I won’t lie, I bet having a super yacht must be fun, but today I’m reminded that those things don’t guarantee happiness. It’s you who decides what really has value, whether it is a luxury hotel or a tree growing on a mountain. Personally, I try to see the value in everything I encounter. A nice caf, a mountain, our ship, my friends, a yacht, a hot spring, or an ocean shower. In my eyes, most things have value if you see them from the right perception.
And maybe that’s the key to living a happier life; being aware of what there is to be enjoyed.
Learning how to appreciate.