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Location: Pain de Sucre, Les Saintes

Today started out bright and beautiful and WINDY. We are in a less protected anchorage now compared to some of our spots, and it means we are doing even more diligent anchor watches, but we are getting treated to lovely breezes to keep us cool during the day and night. I woke everyone up this morning to the sounds of classic Disney singalongs. We heard some Tarzan, Lion King, Moana, Tangled, and more. The wake-up technique that works best with this group is to start out with slow, quiet music and then gradually increase the volume and beat of the tunes over a few songs to get them to wake up with a smile. I didn’t get too many protests this morning, as they were excited to start their day of diving and shore time. The chefs were on the ball and had our tasty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and lots of fruit ready a few minutes early. Then we had a quick clean-up and got our dive gear ready.

Before diving, we had an Oceanography lecture where we learned about waves! This is something that acutely affects us in our everyday lives, so the students could really relate to parts of this lecture. Then it was time to dive! The diving this morning was the final piece of the puzzle for the Advanced Open Water class. They completed their Underwater Navigation adventure dive, which requires them to practice several skills. The first is to swim along with a designated distance while they count their kick cycles and time themselves. This allows them to estimate distance underwater by operating off of their known number of kick cycles/time to swim that certain distance. The second skill was natural navigation. This skill doesn’t involve a compass but instead requires them to observe their surroundings and visual markers in order to swim away from and back to a starting point. They look for features like walls, slopes, distinct rocks or coral heads, sunlight, current, etc. The next skill is navigating a straight line out and back using a compass. The final skill was swimming a square pattern using their compass. This is a great precursor to swimming search patterns for their rescue course that is coming up next! In buddy pairs, they executed all of these skills very well and had fun doing it!

After diving was done for the morning, the students were set free onshore for the afternoon to have lunch, arrange laundry, find wifi and ice cream, and explore the quaint French-inspired town. There are lots of little shops and restaurants along the water here, and the views of the harbor and surrounding hills are beautiful. The primary language is French here, and that led to some funny mishaps along the way when it came to ordering food. Brit got a drink that was a fizzy mint-flavored soda of some sort that reminded all of us of peppermint chewing gum. We struggled through pronouncing the menu items to order our pizza, ice cream, and other tasty treats. But perhaps the funniest instance was Miranda, who attempted to order a goat cheese salad for lunch. The waiter either did not understand what she was asking for, or perhaps her finger was pointing to the next item down on the menu, but instead of getting a big green salad filled with veggies and nice cheese like she was expecting, she ended up with a salad covered in various unidentified types of meat. This would not have been too much of a disappointment, except that Miranda is a vegetarian! So instead of letting her go hungry, her lunch partners Jon, Joseph, Matthew, and Jill all took turns eating from her plate and sharing parts of their meals with her. The meats on the salad included duck parts like gizzards, foie gras, and “needles.” Don’t worry; they got ice cream afterward to cleanse their palate after that culinary adventure!

Everyone returned to Ocean Star shortly before dinner to shower and swap stories about their day. Many were laden with snacks, so much so that they couldn’t finish the awesome fried chicken that Jade and her chefs made for dinner! They were all thankfully less their laundry, which is getting cleaned and will be picked up in a couple of days. They are all excited about fresh clothes! Dinner concluded with Squeeze as always, and my question was, “Please tell us about a challenge in your life that has ultimately had a positive outcome or has taught you something meaningful.” We learned about big and small things in our friends’ lives that have helped them become who they are today. To end the Squeeze, we played one of my favorite games, Pterodactyl. It’s very silly, and we get to make a lot of faces and crazy noises at each other. Now the students are in Seamanship with Carolyn, and they are continuing to learn and prepare for their upcoming NavMaster exams. It was a fun day filled with learning, breathing underwater, eating French food, and laughing a lot.

Pictured: Jade enjoying her grapefruit at breakfast, Amanda teaching underwater navigation to the Advanced Open Water divers; beautiful sky view from the dock just before sunset; students doing practice NavMaster problems with charts of the Chesapeake Bay.