Location: Underway to Nevis
It’s morning. The sun is softly rising from the lush, green hills of the islands surrounding Mountain Point, Virgin Gorda. It has been five days, and Ocean Star is our home. We are woken up to PB & J’s, known for being our go-to breakfast when a fast-paced morning is upon us. We quickly eat and then dive on our anchor chain simple routine. The dive is needed to finish half of the crew’s open water certification. It’s a navigation exercise. With our groggy eyes, we navigate our way around the small bay we are currently docked at. The warm, salty water is gently waking us up, letting us know that it is time to start our day.
It’s early afternoon. We are preparing for what should be the longest voyage of our trip, an almost 24-hour sail across the open ocean, something that few have been able to experience. Though our jobs are being taken seriously, it is difficult to stay focused at times. Before our voyage, we are headed to Spanish Town. A place consisted of a dive shop, grocery store, and a simple restaurant that sits along the docks.
It’s 14:00. The entire student crew is sitting together as we do for every meal. This time it’s different. We are on land for the first time since the day we left our families to seek out what is unknown to us. While we sit for our first meal on land, little is to be said. Some are distracted by phones, while others by cheeseburgers. There is not much conversation about the voyage ahead. Time is still, at least until these cheeseburgers are gone.
It’s 17:00 full sails to the wind. A rush of energy and excitement has followed us from Spanish Town. We are confident in each other and the training we have received. It’s an easy sail.
It’s 18:30. Some of the crew has been struck by seasickness. It came on quickly after rounding out of the Sir Frances Drake Channel and sailing into the open sea. Those of us who were sick at the stern of the boat focused on fighting back nausea, while giggles of joy and excitement emanated from the crew at the bow. The seas are choppy, and dinner is being served on deck. Those who can eat do so, while those who can’t stomach food try as best as they can.
It’s 20:30. The winds are fierce, and the waves are strong. We are guided by a full moon, which is the only light to be seen for hundreds of miles. We are well out at sea. Lightning is seen far in the distance off the starboard bow and then again in front of us. Waves begin to grow; winds begin to shift radically. However, the crew is focused on keeping themselves from losing any more of what was once a delicious cheeseburger.
It’s 22:00. Those who can help stay on deck, while those tormented by the delirium of sea sickness stay down in the saloon. We have been caught by a squall. The ship, staying true to its course for the last 5 hours, suddenly becomes heavy to steer and abruptly shifts course. Waves begin to crash on the bow. Our home is taking a beating, but it isn’t anything she hasn’t sailed threw before.
It’s 00:00. Most of the crew is tired and still a bit seasick. A shout is heard for the hands-on deck to help bring in the jib. Those below race to the deck to help out, but in the confusion, we can’t find the 2nd Mate. Quickly the 2nd mate emerges from the bowsprit wondering why no one is helping him with the jib. After having tied down the jib and settling the sails, the crew settles back down. More squalls keep the crew on their toes as they stand idle, huddled in wet t-shirts and board shorts. We are all ready to lend a steady hand, vigilant for more squalls, and burning with pride. Adrenaline is pumping, and lack of sleep isn’t bothering us anymore. We have been fighting these squalls for the last hour, and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding. The students are nervous, but we have faith in our Captain and his mates. The moon has been covered by clouds, the only light that comes is in flashes and followed by the rumbles of thunder. We aren’t scared or nervous anymore, just ready for the next command. We have been fighting, and we don’t intend to back down anytime soon. The Captain and his mates have faith in us, and we in them. The Captain’s eyes are fierce. He has been trained for this, and there is no hesitation or doubt in his visage, and this gives us confidence.
It’s 03:00. The squalls are in the distance. We have had a long night of dodging squalls as best as we could, but we have the dawn to look forward to. It will bring sunshine in our faces and confidence in our chests. Watch teams change throughout the night, allowing those who were off duty to gain some much-needed sleep, and a routine grows amongst the crew.
The sun begins to rise, oranges and pinks rest softly on the clouds. The rocking of waves and the power of the winds have died down to a calming rhythm. The heaving and rolling of the heavy rocking of our home slowly sway us to sleep. We are one ship, one crew, and it’s been just another day at the office.
-Blogger’s Note: Apologies for uploading these last two days behind schedule. There were some technical difficulties and some extenuating circumstances that caused the delay.