Location: St. Eustatius
As skipper-of-the-day, I had the great responsibility of waking myself at 5:30 am and rousing the rest of the crew. I stumbled sleepily across the deck, vaguely aware of the covering of clouds. As upbeat sunshine music played over the sound system, the shipmates rolled out of bed, some more chipper than others. The first group piled into our dinghy Exy, and the wind began to pick up. Those of us still on Ocean Star ran downstairs to grab our foul weather gear and warm hats. By the time we came back on deck, the rain had begun. We saw Exy on her way back, full of people. The wind was fierce, the rain was dashing, and our sunrise hike had been foiled. Most of us climbed back in bed to enjoy an hour and a half of cozy reading, movie watching or sleeping.
Meanwhile, the galley leprechauns Sam and Matty conjured up some excellent beignets (fried doughnuts). After breakfast, we prepared to sail to St. Eustatius, commonly known as Statia, a Dutch island lying to the southwest. This was the warm-up for the student-led sail, so the shipmates practiced plotting the course and raising sails with as little input from the staff as possible. The weather cleared, and we had a lovely five-and-a-half-hour sail across the sea. Mollie helmed, Jon learned some new knots, Boots got to wear a puffy orange life preserver (a reminder not to leave her PFD on deck), Sam gave us navigation instructions, and everyone enjoyed the nice weather. Brandon took the helm as we neared Statia and deftly wove Ocean Star around the oil tankers coming and going near Oranjestad. As soon as we sailed onto the anchor and determined that our boat was secure, we heard Tor’s passionate (yet staged) calls for help from the water. Our last rescue scenario! We knew that if we all performed as we’d been trained and rescued Tor and Matty efficiently and effectively, we would finally pass our Rescue Diver course. Everyone took on a role and worked together as a team, and before long, we’d rescued and revived both our dive instructors. We were officially certified! After our yummy Mexican dinner (we didn’t have Irish ingredients readily available), Sam surprised us with a cake to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day and our new PADI Rescue Diver certification. The day ended with Matty’s Marine Biology class on marine mammals, a favorite topic. As the sun was setting on another great day, we gazed over at St. Kitts, the island we visited on Day 12. How far we’ve come since then! We’re all sad that the trip will end in two short weeks, but a glance over at Statia reminds us that we have many adventures still ahead!