Location: Deshaise, Guadeloupe

Forgive me for writing this log in reverse. I have to start with a description of our last passage prep. Our plan is to leave Guadeloupe in the middle of the night tonight to ensure a mid-morning arrival in Antigua, our final destination. After a bittersweet pep talk from Dan, reminding us that these last 40 miles deserve the same high-performance standard as the previous 6,200, we rolled straight into passage prep from dinner cleanup. I wish words could describe how proud and impressed I was by the flawless execution of the ‘Pre-Cruise Check List.” As skipper, it was incredible to be able to watch the flurry of activity as we hauled up the dinghies and secured them on deck, prepared the sails, re-coiled the lines, put all the dive gear away, got the laundry off the lifelines, filled the day tank with fuel, ran the jack lines, and secured our personal belongings down below. It was like (if you’ll excuse the cliche’ simile) conducting a symphony every player in place, every note perfectly played. I want to give a huge thank you to the staff for taking a rag-tag group of teen- and twenty-somethings, land-lubbers and pollywogs and using the past 85 days to turn us into a professional crew. And of course, kudos to my fellow shipmates, who are the best group of people you could ever hope to cross an ocean with en route from South Africa to the Caribbean. I had to start with that, but the rest of the day was no less remarkable. In the pouring afternoon rain, we set up the ‘boom swing” (which is exactly what it sounds like). A dedicated group of eight took charge of raising the boom and securing the lines. The whole group had a blast launching themselves off the boat, swinging across the water, and dropping (some more gracefully than others) into the water. We ended the day with more than a few bright red bellies and backs and Stephanie, the undisputed champion of the backflip. Lunch was a delicious Mexican feast of quesadillas, and the morning consisted of an optional river hike in Deshaise for those of us not retaking any exams. Breakfast was cereal at 0730, preceded by wake-ups at 0700 by yours truly. Phew, reliving a day backward is hard work, but I couldn’t have asked for a better last day as skipper.