Location: English Harbor, Antigua

Today dawned bright and early for some of us as Hayley, Daniel, and I went diving under the boat at 6:30 am to finish up Hayley’s Advanced Open Water course. We did a peak performance buoyancy dive to tune up trim and buoyancy while diving. It was lots of fun, and we even saw a few critters and found Oliver’s lost mask from last night’s night snorkel.

For breakfast, we had tasty french toast from Aidan and his chef team. Then we did a quick clean-up, tidied the deck, and moved from Galleon Beach over to the dock at Nelson’s dockyard. It was awesome to see us get on the dock unassisted by anyone else other than the 18 people onboard. Amanda was in the dinghy, ready to give a little nudge, while Hayley and Skylar caught lines, a team dropped anchors, and others hauled in on our stern lines. It’s amazing to see the difference in the crew from the time we first pulled away from the dock in the BVI a few weeks ago to now. We have learned so much, and not just about docking procedures. We have grown as divers, sailors, and friends over the last 20 days.

After we got safely on the dock, we started a time-honored tradition of Boat Appreciation, aka BA, where we scrub, clean, organize and just generally freshen up Ocean Star after she has brought us to and from our destinations. Along with all the cleaning, we sadly had to get everybody packed up and ready to depart tomorrow. We climbed into the laz to find dive gear, grabbed dry clothes from the lifelines, removed our notebooks and pens from the library cubbies, and scrounged under our mattresses for lost socks and phone chargers, all the while feeling the bittersweet emotions of imminent departure.

To add some fun and an element of competition to our day, Smash organized an apple bobbing contest to win some retired ensigns and courtesy flags. This was not your standard apple bobbing, however, because this one took place in the used dishy bin water. Covered in oil, food scraps, and who knows what else, the winners emerged with their prizes and then promptly jumped into the ocean to rinse off. Amanda drizzled shampoo on everyone’s heads to assure they got all the lunch residue out of their hair. Laughs, and a few gags, were had by all!

Once the boat was squeaky clean, everyone was packed up and showered. We mustered in the cockpit for a final squeeze. We all spoke about our appreciation for the trip and answered the question, “What advice would you give to your past self, now that you’ve done what you’ve done and know what you know?” A rainbow accompanied our final squeeze, as the rainy weather from the last two days had finally cleared after a final brief sprinkle. After a heartfelt squeeze, we walked to Trappas for a final dinner out and sign-out night. The food was tasty, we enjoyed a few drinks, and we even found somewhere to dance (of course) to Mamma Mia and other group favorites. We finally headed back to Ocean Star for our last sleep, though many people apparently stayed up visiting well into the early hours of the morning. We have all made friends and memories that will last a lifetime, and it will be hard to say goodbye tomorrow!