Location: Tobago Cays

The crew arose at the regular hour, 0715, for a sun rising over a squally sky. The wind and weather had come up in the night, leading to midnight worries that the anchor was dragging, setting the boat back onto a lee shore. It held fast through the night, however, and by the time breakfast was cleared away the sky had started to brighten and squalls had been blown to leeward of our position. After a seamanship class, where the topic of the day was anchors and anchoring techniques, the boat was readied for the short passage from Union Is. to Tobago Cays. The Tobago Cays are a ring of small islands connected by a barrier reef that encloses a lagoon. There are only two channels in or out of the lagoon, and they are not marked with navigational aids, and contain shallow coral heads to be avoided for the sake of our hull. To sight the channel we sent two shipmates to lay aloft in the rig, where the added height gives them a better perspective on the navigational hazards. Once guided into the lagoon, we dropped anchor in the deeper blue waters. Up ahead of us the water shoals up until it is a light turquoise color, until finally it merges with land in the form of a white sand beach on one of the encircling islands. Before lunch we had a boat appreciation where we were all able to give a little love back to Ocean Star until she was ‘shipshape and Bristol fashion’. In the afternoon some of the shipmates split off to explore the beaches and islands, while the staff took the opportunity to rig a windsurfer and spend some time sailing back and forth. After dinner the crew were briefed in preparation for the first night snorkel. Buddy groups decided, the dinghies where loaded and sent towards the shallower waters adjacent to the reef. As the swimmers swam away from the dinghy there where only pairs of lights in the otherwise featureless dark water to mark their location. Back on board, and with tea and hot chocolate all around, we compared the sightings we had made on the reef. Lobster, conch and all other manner of sea creature just waiting to be made delicious.