Location: Tobago Cays
The Tobago Cays are the definition of tropical paradise, a few small lonely islands dotting the cerulean water. We see in the distance the inhabited islands of Mayreau and Canouan, but these tiny cays are nearly devoid of human influence. Aside from the few other catamarans that share our anchorage and the multi-colored speed boats that occasionally zip by selling lobster and trips to Petit Tabac, these islands are ours. Over the past several days, we snorkeled through the insanely turquoise waters, observing fish behavior and marveling at how coral look at night when the polyps come out. We played in the waves on the palm-fringed white beaches and walked in the footsteps of Captain Jack Sparrow. We braved the cacti as we explored the islands, seeking out iguana and tortoises and amazing views. We swam over seagrass beds watching turtles eat, listening to them rip the grass out, piece by piece. Today was our last day in this tropical paradise, and we are going to miss its beauty and seclusion. Yes, the shipmates are excited to be going to land where the internet and cold Coke are relatively easy to come by. But this special place, unknown to most Caribbean visitors, will be remembered for years to come. Today was no exception to the rule that days at Seamester are awesome. After our pancake breakfast, Monika started the day with an SLD class on deck. Shipmates learned about Myers-Briggs personality types and analyzed their peers and staff. Our morning Oceanography class was also held on deck. We’ve been studying water chemistry, and we spent the hour investigating at the properties of the seawater around us.
Using a refractometer and a CTD, we found that the Caribbean waters around the Tobago Cays currently have a salinity of 32 parts per thousand. We looked at surface tension by floating a paper clip on the surface of the water and watching it plummet when a drop of detergent was added and by counting the number of drops of freshwater that can fit on a US penny. Impressively, 35 drops fit (and more impressively, Bret already knew this fact). Then came the moment all the shipmates had been waiting for with bated breath: the red cabbage demo. After I’d mentioned that red cabbage is the most amazing vegetable, Will and Bridget found one for me in the small grocery store in Les Saintes. Ocean Star has been carrying it around in her fridge for a couple of weeks now. While studying pH and the buffering capability of seawater, we made a vat of lovely purple cabbage juice. The addition of the juice to our slightly basic seawater turned the juice a blue-purple color. We then used the juice as an indicator to test the pH of various substances on the boat; vinegar, which turned it bright pink, baking soda, which turned it green, the lye-based teak cleaner, which turned it vivid yellow. Before long, we had an impressive rainbow. By adding drops of acid to the seawater and indicator, we could visually see the seawater resisting a change in pH. It was boundless fun. Though nothing can top making a rainbow out of cabbage juice, the crew of Ocean Star had a great afternoon. With hours of free time and deserted islands at their disposal, they practiced windsurfing, dinghy-driving, and sunbathing. As the evening rolled around, we shuttled ourselves to Petit Bateau, where we had a permit for a beach barbecue. While Ben had shipmates learning self-defense techniques on the sandy beach for his leadership how-to presentation, Grillmaster Kris cooked up chicken and burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers, cayenne plantains and cinnamon bananas. We ate looking out at Ocean Star floating under the brilliantly colored sunset sky. We headed back to our boat as the full moon rose; another day over, a new island awaits.