Location: Spanish Point, Barbuda
Another day on the coastline of the sandy beaches of Barbuda…
After a fruitful night of sleep, I went to wake the crew up in my most skipper-like voice, but then I was thoroughly disappointed when I realized that about half the crew was already awake. Breakfast was prepared by our brilliant head chef Tom! A simple spread of cereal, fruit and leftover bagels filled our stomachs for the first part of the day. As ever, our marine biology lesson was filled to the brim in knowledge about the beautiful areas that we have been exploring for the last 28 days. This edition focused on the deep sea, Angler Fish, Giant Squid, and every gnarly fang-toothed monster you could ever imagine on Nat Geo’s River Monsters. Following our lesson, our Captain Steve led us on a quick boat sail around a corner of the island to arrive at some excellent diving spots. With the wind filling our sails and our hearts, we pressed on through the swell and spray. Our arrival was noted by those below deck when the anchor ran to the bottom of the sea like a bullet from a gun.
With time to spare till lunch, we rolled out our charts (don’t call them maps!) of the Chesapeake Bay (shoutout to my Maryland folks!) and plotted all sorts of navigational points upon our charts. While very tedious and allowed for little to no error, it was incredibly rewarding to find the correct coordinates and use all of our sailing knowledge, such as compass headings, set and drift, and dead reckoning! Today’s lunch was Tom’s DaVinci, a ginormous pot of rice as a base for a sizzling pan of sauteed green peppers and fried pork. There was silence for a good two minutes, and the only thing you could hear was forks rasping against the bottom of the bowl.
Everyone was extremely excited for the second half of our day as we finally went diving again since a nasty storm put us back on the dock in the Antigua Slipway. The groups were split into two diving teams for today’s dive. It started quite normal as half of us waved adios to our Dinghy, Exy. Soon after, we heard a call over the VHF requiring assistance. One of the Dinghies (devoid of passengers except for the driver) had gotten tossed into a reef by a massive swell! Those of us on board quickly lowered our rescue Dinghy, Irv, into the water with record speed. Five minutes later, the crisis was resolved, and the relaxing in the sun resumed. Then unbelievably, we saw Exy speeding back again with some of the divers, for a huge swell had tossed them around the reef, disorienting them and even caused some of their gear to be swept away by Posiden’s mighty hand. Separated, then reunited with adrenaline pumping, all the divers made it safely back into Ocean Star with a captivating epic to tell and retell.
Finally, it was my turn to take a dip in the cool, refreshing Caribbean water, thankfully at a different dive spot. My team and I submerged to 30 feet down like Navy seals and started our exploration of the sea. The biodiversity was incredible! We saw a spotted Moray Eel and at least a hundred different species of fish such as Triggerfish, Hogfish, and Blue Tangs. I can’t forget to mention the enormous Nurse Shark taking a nap (see picture 5). Unfortunately, his head was hiding. The dive continued, and had we not been using a regulator to breathe, our jaws would have kept dropping at the beautiful scenery, similar to an Imax screening.
After surfacing and returning to Ocean Star, we disassembled our dive kits and had a relaxing hour before it was time to fill our bellies with Tom’s last creation. Combining pork, ribs, carrots, corn, and noodles, Tom had set up a make-your-own ramen bowl line! I saw people go back for seconds, then thirds, and even a couple-fourths. Believe me when I saw there were no leftovers. Following clean-up, the crew had the rest of the night off to socialize and study for our third marine biology test. After a wild day, we were grateful for the downtime. Who knows what tomorrow will have in store for the crew of S/Y Ocean Star?