Location: St. John's Harbour, Antigua

The day started off at 3:30 am when we were all woken to say goodbye to Shane, who had an early morning flight out. He was the first of us to leave. After the sad goodbye, everyone resumed sleeping/anchor watch. Then, at 6 am, some people got up for one final sunrise swim. Everyone was excited to be in the water, and somehow this led to yelling “Ocean Star, Ocean Star, Ocean Star!” trying to get Ocean Star’s attention. This did not succeed as Ocean Star was a little too far away to hear anything. The swim ended with a friendly visit from the Coast Guard. It was thought that they had heard all the shouting for Ocean Star and had come over to investigate. However, that is merely speculation.

When all of Argo was finally awake, we had one final group breakfast of boatmeal. Jay decided that this was the perfect opportunity to play some sad music, which resulted in many tears. After a while, it was time for those leaving in the first dinghy to finish their last bit of packing and get their stuff up on deck. Duffels were handed over the cap rail and piled in Doctor. Hugs were given, tears shed, and promises to visit each other made. It was time for the eight who were leaving to get into the dinghy. Missy was first. She got as far as hanging over the cap rail when she slipped and fell straight into the ocean. Having learned from Missy, the next couple of people carefully made their way into the dinghy. Then, it was Sylvia’s turn. She got over the cap rail and was hanging onto the side of Argo, waiting for the dinghy to swing back to step in when she suddenly decided to let go. She, too, fell straight into the ocean. Everyone hurriedly rushed to pull Sylvia and her computer out (pictured). Luckily both Sylvia and the computer were okay, and tears were replaced with laughter. Once all eight students, Tim, and Smash were finally in the dinghy, Tim started slowly driving away, sitting on top of the motor because that was literally the only place left to sit. We watched as the dinghy full of our friends got smaller, and smaller and waving arms could no longer be seen. Argo was a lot quieter and felt larger already.

The next round of students finished their packing, and soon it was their turn to descend into Doctor. With only four students leaving this time, it wasn’t nearly as much of an event as the first round had been. However, it was just as hard to say goodbye. And once they and their stuff was gone, the boat felt emptier than ever. That left seven of us, students, on board with flights leaving tomorrow. We packed, watched movies, swam, and played games, trying to enjoy our last full day aboard Argo and not think too much about our departure.

And like that, the last day is over. It’s unfortunate that it ended so soon. We thought we’d have 23 more days together to sail, dive, and explore new places. We thought the coronavirus wouldn’t affect us because we were on a boat. Yes, we heard about it on the news, but that seemed so far away. Then schools started calling their study abroad students home, but we worked that out, and our friends were allowed to stay. The virus spread, and we decided it was best to change our plans and stay off land. Though often disappointed, we found a bright side to the constantly changing plan every time. Even in the end, when we were told that if we stayed on Argo, we would be stuck on the anchored boat for the rest of the semester (maybe even longer), many of us still wanted to stay. There wasn’t anywhere else or anyone else we would rather have been with while the virus continued to spread. However, eventually, it caught up to us, and we had no choice but to book flights home. That news was hard to hear. But we mostly accepted it (some are still hoping the borders close before our flights leave), and are stronger because of it. Though we are leaving each other for now, this pandemic has only made us more determined to meet up soon and make up for the time that was taken from us.

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