Location: Portsmouth, Dominica

“What are you even doing?” is a question that I, and I assume many other of my crewmates, get asked by outsiders the simple answer: a unique study abroad experience. Or rehab, the answer I started giving people as they probed for more information before I left. The long answer, while I may not have it completely figured out yet, is personal growth. This boat would be dead in the water without the large amounts of trust we all have in each other, and this trust is the growth. We put our lives in each other’s hands and accept everybody’s lives into our own hands as well. We trust one another to do a daily job and to do it well. We rely on the chefs to whip out three meals a day, knowing that granola bars and oatmeal are our fallbacks. We rely on the Headmaster to clean the toilets. We rely on the Gophers to bring up and organize meals. We rely on the whole dish crew to efficiently clean up the wild messes the chefs create. We rely on anchor watch members at night to keep watch for any hazards. Any single slacker interrupts the whole train, and our valuable time can slip away. Even more important, and something that I firmly believe many of us have been improving on, is helping where help is needed. Every day we have an assigned job, yes, but every minute we have a boat/house/classroom to keep clean and afloat.

Being Skipper, the blog creator and student-in-charge of the day, can sometimes be the hardest job. The Skipper’s main job is to keep the train on the tracks, which is incredibly hard if parts are missing. Today the train was well oiled and fast-moving. I felt that anytime I needed help, someone was there before I even had to ask. And even better, people were on top of their jobs before I even had to ask. It makes the Skipper’s job, and boat life as a whole run fast and smooth. Forty-nine days in, and I see completely new people than on day 1 (myself included since I’ve never grown out my beard before). Friends and family back home joked about this being a cruise and taking a “fun” semester. While we are taking legitimate college courses, we live responsibility and trust every minute of every day. Something new to most of the crew and me; I cannot wait to see how well we run on day 80.

Today we had a 3 hour motor to the north end of Dominica, where we are spending our last night on this lustrous island. Everybody was excited to SLEEP-IN to a whopping 7:30 am. We packed up and took off very efficiently, something that doesn’t always happen in our early departures. After arrival in Portsmouth and lunch, we were picked up and taken on a short paddle up one of Dominica’s 365 rivers (a fact locals are very proud of) and did some water quality SCIENCE during the journey. The passage up the river was very peaceful, and we hung out at a little jungle bar about a mile upriver too. We even stopped in a small tributary to see a spot where part of the 2nd Pirates of the Caribbean movie was filmed! Calypso’s cabin is still there right next to the water, looking as cool/creepy as ever. We have all been working on our research paper for Oceanography today and prepping for an all-day passage tomorrow. A special shout out to our cooks today because the meals were to die for AND very on time.

Cheers parents,

Pictured: 1. Keeping track of the water data we were collecting. 2. Skipper Joseph is examining a bridge overhead. 3. Our favorite Oceanography teacher Amanda teaching us how to science. 4. Hanging out at the jungle bar upriver. 5. A very candid boat picture. 6. Gathering data on the river ride. 7. Very pretty views upriver. 8. Boat #1 (the better boat) selfie. 9. Boat #2 (less cool boat) selfie. 10. Calypso’s cabin.