Location: West End, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Santa came early this year. He was doing a pub crawl for charity when we ran into him on the final night out at dinner at Captain Mulligans Restaurant and Bar. The charity was raising money to provide underprivileged children in the BVI some Christmas gifts by going around and caroling at various pubs and restaurants on Tortola. I didn’t realize that the UEA elf workers union were in contract negotiations leaving Santa short on cash and labor. It was a big hit on our final evening out, and all the staff and students joined in on the caroling. There were many a tired eye when we arrived back at the vessel around 11:30 pm. Some stayed up to pack, some wrote goodbye letters to their friends, others made popcorn, and a few managed to sleep. Before the sun was able to brighten the sky, the whole crew was awake and on deck to say goodbye to Sydney, who was departing via EIS on Tortola. She was the only one going by land, so the adage one if by land two if by sea ran true. The rest departed by sea on Ocean Dreams Water Taxi with Brian at around 9 am. It was a warm send-off, and Brian told me that there were quite a lot of emotions coming out as the distance on Ocean Star grew. There is no rest for the wicked, and the staff dove back into preparing for the winter repair period. All of the spare parts, paints, and stores come out from the storage rooms and get loaded onto the boat for her passage down to Antigua. This winter Ocean Star is being hauled out at Antigua Slipway for a fresh coat of bright red bottom paint so she can dazzle the competitors at this spring’s Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Carolyn V will be taking over as Captain this spring, and we are all excited to see her lead our next group of enthusiastic students. We will miss you all this Holiday season. We hope you all had safe flights back and we wish you the best on your next adventure!