Location: Slipway, Antigua

Today is a rather somber day, as the majority of the crew left today to return home to the real world, while a few stragglers stayed behind for changing flight schedules. What does the real world have in store for them? I do not know. I do know that they’re now much better suited to fight whatever comes at them. After enduring 80 days of ever-changing themes, schedules, COVID tests, 50-knot squalls in the middle of the night, washing dishes while heeled over, waking up in the middle of the night, lack of sleep, and a barrage of school work…..Jeez, it sounds like it’s all hardship. Let me try that again….80 days of awesome diving and seeing a myriad of marine life, dolphins, turtles, sharks, eagle rays, beautiful reefs, amazing sailing in calm and perfectly windy weather, sailing under crystal clear skies enjoying the stars, seeing the milky way, shooting stars, bioluminescence, sharing stories each and every day, hearing the sound of laughter (some questionable auxin), forming brand new friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. That sounds better.

It has not been the easiest trip from my perspective, not as a result of the crew but our new arch-nemesis “COVID19” and the ever-changing rules, quarantines meant that the early planned schedule was soon put into disarray, however, while I was concerned that this would impact the enjoyment and experience of the crew as a whole, I was glad to see I was wrong. I couldn’t have personally asked for a better group of staff and crew to work alongside. Everyone banded together and completely understood the changes and forged ahead to make the most of this trip.

The sound of hearing people on deck, the random conversations, the laughter, jokes will be missed (I won’t miss the stomping around, but the rest, yes). Eating meals with so many faces each night and hearing the variety of squeeze answers and getting to know people just with little bits of information from those questions. Hearing the “Gopher” screamed at each meal, “Who’s the Salty” “Where’s the dryer” “Bosun, watch the hose” all these phrases to go from hearing each and every day to not for another 2 months is a strange thing. Seeing and hearing the stories from people’s shore experiences, hikes, activities, etc. While my interim life of hitting rust with a hammer is exciting, it’s often not enough to warrant writing a blog over and omg the blog, seeing the photos each night of all the things I missed, seeing Will perched weirdly on the CH stool wandering “is he going to finish writing this blog before midnight,” who knows.

I am very proud of everything the shipmates have put into this trip, and for those of your parents that read this, you should be proud of them too. Many of them came onto this boat knowing absolutely nothing about sailing, diving, marine science, or maybe all three. Many arrived having never taken charge of a group, led a class discussion but yet they eventually banded together, worked as a team, and took complete control of the boat for a passage to Barbuda. They did it all and wouldn’t have managed were it not for the perseverance, teamwork, and leadership they all showed throughout the trip. I genuinely couldn’t be more proud of the group. I know everyone will go their new routes back home, some returning to college, some may go traveling, some may go into working, some may even have been influenced enough by what they’ve done to change career paths completely (sorry to any parents that had dreams of their kid becoming a doctor, and now they want to be a dive instructor). Whatever and wherever it is they decide to go, I have zero doubt in my mind that they’ll be a great success.

This is the last blog, I have zero desire to caption 80 photos, so they can be summed up as a “Timeline of the trip.”

Thank you to everyone that took part and for your hard work and perseverance, and best wishes for all future endeavors.