Location: Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Today was a beautiful, hot, and breezy morning, but under the shade of the deck tarps, we were happy and cool. We were all excited for the dives we had coming up as we were starting the Advanced Open Water course today. While the chefs worked on finishing up breakfast, some were putting their dive gear together, some were completing dinghy school with Jon, and others were getting the dinghy launched and just generally preparing for the day. Then we ate a delicious breakfast of oatmeal pancakes, fruit, and bacon prepared by head chef Jade and her sous chefs Nate and Jill. After a quick cleanup, we had an Oceanography class. Our midterm is next week, and the students have been working hard not only in studying but also in beginning their group research projects. After class, we had some time to start collecting data for the projects. The projects include collecting and analyzing sediment from windward vs. leeward beaches, studying the diversity of plankton during the day and at night, fish surveys in sandy vs. reef habitat, and analyzing biofouling organisms on the hull and propeller of Ocean Star. To conduct their research, some of the students had to brave the lower laz with me to access the science equipment that we store deep down in the depths.

Then we had a tasty lunch that included everyone’s favorite fresh local fruit! We had a fruit salad made with delicious mangoes, bananas, and a surprise yellow watermelon. The hue of the melon surprised us all when it was cut open, but it tasted just like the tasty red ones we are accustomed to. I went to three different stores yesterday to provision for all of the fruits and the rest of the food for the next week, and it paid off! The students have also been enjoying papayas, passionfruit, sugar apples, and soursop. After lunch, we prepared to do our Fish Identification Dive, which is the first of 5 adventure dives for the Advanced Open Water course. The students doing the course went to a dive site called Devil’s Table with me in pairs. They took dive slates with them and collected data on fish families they observed, the numbers of each type of fish, and what type of habitat they were found in. It was a beautiful dive- the reef is FULL of life here. Some highlights were several eels, and octopus, and my personal favorite fish of all time, the juvenile smooth trunkfish! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it, because it will make your day! While the AOW class was doing their dive, a few students were snorkeling, and the DMTs plus honorary DMT Jill were brushing up on skills with Amy. What a good day! I love it when everyone gets to get in the water and see or accomplish something good during the day.

We concluded our day with homemade chicken nuggets (some compared them to Chick-fil-a!) for dinner. After a music-filled dinner cleanup, the students are now in the salon taking their VHF radio certification exam with Carolyn for seamanship class. Their next class will be the start of NavMaster, where they start learning how to use charts to do coastal navigation. We are learning so much every day, and we can’t believe we are approaching the halfway mark already!

Pictured: Ocean Star in Port Elizabeth, Bequia; Miranda and Joseph working on dinghy school; Josh, Kennedy, Joseph, Ridge, and Matthew in the dishy pit; tanks getting pumped in preparation for diving; surface views during the afternoon dive; family dinner.