Location: Bonaire

The first question one is faced with as skipper is indubitable “how do I want to wake everyone up this morning?”. Unfortunately for everyone, this morning, this thought struck me at 6:45. The answer was a resounding “pick a few pot lids up out of the galley and bang them together in the hallway.” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group of people go so quickly from a peaceful sleep to reasonably enraged, with the exception of Ula and Fargo, who slept soundly through it – very impressive!

After a yummy breakfast of what Gabby referred to as cheesy mush, fried eggs, and freshly baked rolls – the day was off! Elise and Daphne hopped in the water with Matt to finish up some confined water dives, thanks to some ear-related delays that plagued Saskia and Toria as well, who finished up their open water dives with Steph, and Kirby, who completed his certification today with Smash! Directly next to where we are docked is a dive site that is the most inconspicuously beautiful reef ever. Right next to the marina below a manmade jetty, you would never guess that there would be such life hiding just under the surface. But there is! And we are lucky for it. During this time, the rest of the students worked on their Knowledge Reviews for their Advanced Open Water certification — learning more about Navigating while diving, diving at Night, and Underwater Naturalism — about biodiversity, ecology, and different marine life is seen while diving. The students are in no shortage of dives here in Bonaire — moving right into their Advanced certs and doing some seriously awesome dives – including heading out to a coral nursery and helping grow and clean new coral to rehabilitate reefs in Bonaire, diving at night, diving at dawn and watching the sunrise from underwater, and diving deeper than they have before! I’ve been able to accompany the students on lots of their dives, and it doesn’t get old seeing them surface. So excited about all they had just seen that they start talking about it through muffled voices as they haven’t even taken their regulators out yet. Even 5:30 wakeups have been deemed worth it, thanks to Bonaire’s beautiful reefs and crystal clear waters.

But Bonaire isn’t just for diving. Students then headed out to Jibe City, where they spent the rest of the morning learning to windsurf, putting some of their sail theory from Vela to the test. They came back with sore muscles, including their cheeks, from smiling so much.

I, however, had a separate mission for today. One that you will all read about tomorrow. I, along with Matt, am teaching leadership this semester, and part of the course is the students engaging in what we call the Challenge Course. Consider it a mix of Survivor, your first grade field day competition, The Amazing Race, and maybe a dash of Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. In order to consider the leadership style and role students have a natural inclination to step into, we put them into teams to accomplish a number of crazy tasks. Some may surprise themselves by being the loudest voice in the group, others as strategists, and others still as running off the fumes of competitiveness. Today, my goal was to scope out Bonaire and see locations and tasks that would work best to team build in this environment. Walking around the town, down to the cruise dock, there isn’t much of a deserted island survival vibe inherent to the place, but I got creative. I’m so excited to see them all get to do it tomorrow, and I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but I’ve included some bizarre no-context photos to give some hints about what is to come.

I got back in time for dinner, which was Zucchini boats made by Gabby – delicious! Then, Nicole from the Manta Trust came aboard to give the students a talk about Manta Rays and her work in their preservation. We then headed off to bed, excited for the big day! (Challenge Course day, duhhhhh!)

ALSO – today, Steph and Matt had a special guest climb into their cabin! Unfortunately, could not get a photo, so I have included one of Matt sleeping instead.