Location: Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua

Day 26 was just another ordinary day aboard Ocean Star. Well, ordinary in that it was completely extraordinary. How many people can say they hugged a five-foot-long sting ray, undocked (probably not the technical term) and re-docked an 88-foot schooner, and made yet another successful passage through waves peaking at seven or eight feet high, all in 24 hours? I can tell you at least that the crew onboard Ocean Star can.

The day began bright and early at 6 AM to the tune of Wonderwall playing softly from the speakers. The crew rose sleepily, moving sluggishly until the collective realization that in only a few hours, we would be swimming alongside dozens of enormous rays made the usual cleanup after breakfast fly. We piled ourselves into taxis, some of us chattering excitedly about our upcoming adventures, others firing nervous questions at our more experienced staff members about these (admittedly intimidating) creatures. All (or at least most) nerves dissipated quickly upon entering the water, and we were soon running our hands along their smooth backs, hugging them for the cameras, even kissing them according to different guides, kissing a stingray either brings seven years of good luck or seven babies.) When our instructors could finally pull the last of us away, we ate a quick picnic lunch and headed back to the boat to get down to the real business of the day: passage prep.

With the crew practically being old hands at this by now, preparing Ocean Star for her overnight sail to St. Barts went relatively smoothly, and we cast lines from the fuel dock around 1500h. We quickly raised the mainsail and staysail despite a rapidly growing swell and set out across the waves, making good speed (10 knots!!). Twelve hours later, we arrived, rain-drenched and battered by waves, in St. Bart. Our exhausted crew quickly dropped sails and set the hook in the pitch-black night, descending below decks to catch up on some much-needed rest.


Ps. Hi to Mom and Dad, Neddie, Julia, Grandmom and Nannie, and everyone else Im forgetting. Love and miss you all. Love, Anna