Location: Sandy Spit, BVI
Yesterday marked the end of our academic endeavors aboard Ocean Star, with two hours charting for our Navigation Master certification and another couple wrapping up Oceanography with our final exam. I could not imagine a better way to celebrate our well-earned accomplishments than a stress-free, full night’s rest. If only in my dreams. The day started when I woke up at 0635 in a hammock hanging from the dingy boom, suspended over the crisp Caribbean water. Wake up was scheduled for 0630. Pressed for time, I failed to deliver a promised live performance of whale songs, but I blasted some good vibes and the crew set to motion without missing a beat. Fueled with cereal and whole milk (because Will was bargain shopping at the market), we prepped the deck and rigged the sails for a short jump led by navigator Amanda to Sandy Spit. Upon arrival, we gathered to give final presentations on our sea anemone research projects (so much for being done with academics… I deceived you just as we had been deceived). At any rate, it was really great to see how everyone’s efforts over the last month, (creating dive plans, scanning literature, deliberately and eventually unconsciously searching for sea anemones every time we find ourselves underwater) have culminated into well-displayed data and individualized interpretations of our research topics. Following the presentations, we split the crew in three groups to dive “the playground. All three groups failed to spot any big sea creatures (sharks, rays, the like) we had anticipated, but each returned with unique stories to share. Group 1 led by Annemarie swam alongside a spotted eagle ray;”a rare sighting and a first of the trip. Group 2 led by Lo, did not see a spotted ray; (did not see anything) because they were too busy doing a “marathon sprint” underwater to keep up with their speedy dive leader. (Cannot deny the exercise though.) Group 3 led by Dani also missed the creatures (besides a coral shaped like a head Dani excitingly pointed out), but we made up for it with underwater telephone, bubble-blowing tricks and some good ol’ rock paper scissors tournament play. With a couple hours to spare before dinner, we boarded Exy and headed ashore for the beach on Sandy Spit. As if we had never seen the ocean before, we splished and we splashed and we buried Anya in the sand. Chefs Kira and Elizabeth had delicious pasta Alfredo awaiting our return. With just a few days to prank the ultimate prankster himself, Smudge, Amanda and I brilliantly coated our hands in honey and went in for the squeeze on either side of him at the end of the meal. He took our hands, confused but mainly unamused, and we carried on with the squeeze question. It is hard to count it as a win for the student crew when we ourselves had to sit for 30 minutes with honey oozing through our fingers, but we will count it nonetheless. On a more serious note, the squeeze question allowed us to reflect on our role aboard Ocean Star over the last 40 days, and tell of a time you found yourself a teacher and a student to another crewmember. Our courses MTE and OCE have provided a wealth of knowledge about sailing, seamanship, the ocean and conservation. However, the most important lessons are the ones we teach each other, by offering up to the voyage little facts, life hacks, longstanding interests, and upholding passions.