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Location: Deshaies, Guadeloupe

This morning, we continued our sail past Dominica and Martinique and made our way up the sprawling coastline of Guadeloupe. Watch team 3 brought us safely into Deshaies, dropped our sails and set anchor, and got to work putting the boat to bed. The whole day has existed under a cloud of looming excitement to meet to Ocean Star students and crew for dinner this evening. Nate and his team treated us to a great lunch of Pesto Pasta this afternoon as the rest of the students saw Deshaies and Ocean Star for the first time. After lunch and a sad farewell to Nick, who will head off to captain Ocean Star, the students had Marine Biology. After class, they were surprised by their final EFR scenario, where they treated a spinal injury, electrical cord entanglement, serious bleeding, non-responsive, non-breathing, unconscious person, and a panicked onlooker played by Meg, Steph, Jake, Christina, and Allie, respectively. The attempt was worlds away from their initial rescue scenario, and after their great success, they are now all officially Emergency First Responders.

Then, Charlton, Kip, Kaden, Benno, Frida, Emma, Alva, Mads, Conor, Laszlo, and Nate began the in-water portion of their Rescue Diver course. This certification is an important one as it is the last non-professional dive certification to be earned, followed only by the Divemaster and Dive Instructor. The Rescue Diver course teaches students how to respond to in-water emergencies that may occur while scuba diving. They will learn how to help in a situation involving everything from a panicked diver at the surface to an unconscious diver lost at the bottom of the ocean. While we hope they’ll never find themselves in a scenario where they’ll need these skills, they are important and potentially life-saving ones to have as they continue diving well beyond their time on Vela. Today’s portion of the course involved throwable and reachable saves able to be performed from land or from the boat, towing a tired diver through the water, calming down a panicked diver without risking your own safety, and providing someone the means to self-rescue. After what can only be successfully measured by the amount of screaming heard from on deck (and down below and probably on the other side of the anchorage), students swam and showered and mentally prepared to socialize with an outside group for the first time in over two months. Nate and the team (Will and Steph) prepared the high-stakes meal of Pulled Pork and Mashed Potatoes. While Ocean Star is bringing their own dinner over, stakes remain high as they will see our dinner from across the chart house and cockpit, and we hope they’ll be fueled by envy.

Ocean Star arrived in style – specifically with Kackie matching Allie’s dulamimis and a wild pair of jorts from an Ocean Star student that would soon bond him with Laszlo. They brought over some chicken fingers, and we had our pulled pork, and we mixed and mingled, and students tried their best to act cool and not incredibly awkward to varying degrees of success. Dinner was full of chatter and laughter and comparisons of the two boats – O Star students thinking Vela is huge but less homey with its flushing toilets and other futuristic technologies, and our 16 students tried not to scare their eight too severely with tales of “the poop bandit.” The squeeze question was “What is a humorous anecdote from your trip so far?” and stories ranged from lost fruit loops and fish inside dorade to tumbles down the companionway and reenacting scenes from Pirates Of The Caribbean. We enjoyed some fabulous cookies made by Emma, who made batches of vegan, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter to suit all tastes. Then, where we would normally roll right into clean up, Ocean Star requested a full boat tour of Vela, which descended into a few more hours of chit-chat and storytelling between the boats, new friends made, and promises to connect again, each bonding over their version of this same shared experience, and the ease of talking to someone new who just gets it. O Star went home, and we completed clean up and got ready for a new day in Guadeloupe, and unfortunately, our first without Nick on board.

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