Location: Ile Fourchue

Today has been the hardest day of the trip so far for me.

My day started at 1:20 am when I randomly woke up and walked around in the saloon and galley for 30 mins trying to make myself sleepy again. The cold that’s been plaguing the crew of Ocean Star hit me a couple of days ago, and the snot running down my face at 2 am was certainly not a nice addition to my restless pacing. I was able to fall asleep again, but not without bumping my head on the bottom of the bunk above me; I somehow still haven’t fully acclimated to having less than a foot of headroom above my bed, even after 60 days.

I woke up for real at around 6:45 and enjoyed the silence in the saloon that’s always present before everyone wakes up. I savor moments of peace and quiet on this trip, and early mornings afford such calm. I woke up my crewmates at 7, and we had a delicious breakfast of yogurt, granola, and peanut butter (of course). Some people complain about the frequency of this breakfast option, but I think it’s super delicious, easy to make, and fast to clean up. I would pick yogurt for breakfast every day if I could. During the meal, I got into an argument with one of my fellow crew. This argument turned out to be a good lesson about human social interaction and its subjectivity.

I have been using this voyage as an opportunity to better understand how I communicate with others. Something that has become very apparent to me about human social interaction is that everyone’s perception is different. Even if I have the best of intentions and believe that I am being reasonable and kind, someone else may perceive me as rude, stuck up, pretentious, or whatever other negative attribute one can have. Along the same lines, I find myself being influenced by my own emotional state to interpret others’ intentions, facial expressions, tone, and actions through a warped lens. Someone’s words may seem hurtful, intolerant, or aggressive to me, but I have come to realize that my perception does not necessarily (or usually) align with the other person’s intent. It is really hard to feel hurt by others, but I also understand that I cause the same pain in return sometimes without meaning to. We are all definitely human, and we should take the time to reflect on how our human-ness impacts the way we communicate. From my perspective, the way we relate to one another is beautifully imperfect. All we can ask of one another is that our intentions are good and that our resolve to be kind is strong. This trip has shown me that kindness is truly the most important factor in existing harmoniously with others. Be kind, even when it feels impossible. People are usually trying their best, and sometimes things get lost in translation. It’s a good thing to have grace and forgiveness.

After breakfast, we had a fish IQ quiz and marine biology. We learned about marine birds and reptiles, which was super interesting! I was appalled to learn that a species of saltwater crocodile in Asia can reach sizes of up to ~20 feet (horrifying!!). During class, we moved from St Barths to Il Fourchue, which I can’t wait to explore. After marine bio, we had leadership class which took the form of a “guest lecture” with Sam. It was actually just an hour set aside for us to check in with one another and staff. We discussed many things during said meeting, including BA, music preferences, the best ways to motivate one another to get work done, and how we were feeling about the semester overall.

In all honesty, the energy of the meeting was quite negative and depressing. For better or for worse, I am an extremely sensitive person, and as such was deeply affected by the complaints and issues we discussed as a group. I was (unsuccessfully) trying to hold myself together while in front of 15 other people, and I was relieved to have some time alone before lunch once the meeting was over. Everyone seemed to recover quickly from the difficult conversation that had just happened, and I was wonderfully comforted by two of my crew mates who saw how I was struggling. It felt so good to be understood and listened to, and I am so grateful to have been given the space to talk about how I was feeling with my peers. It’s moments like that one that makes this trip truly worth all the difficult times. Those moments are also the ones that show me that everyone has the capacity and the agency to be kind and caring to others. Thank you to the people who helped me out today, truly.

After lunch, diving began. People who needed to complete their navigation dive for the advanced certification did so with Heather, and the rescue divers had another session in the water to practice our skills. I was able to participate in the surface skills, which included extending an object to a “distressed diver” (Sam) to help them to safety, throwing them a floatation device, and swimming out to help them out of the water. It was pretty hilarious to see everyone’s “highly realistic” acting in action. I couldn’t participate in the underwater skills for rescue due to my congestion (big bummer), but the other rescue divers reported back that they had a good time.

We enjoyed a dinner of pasta and finished the day off with a squeeze. Each person shared their appreciation for the day and then shared something that they appreciated about each person sitting next to them. It felt good to show each other some love, as did the 15 seconds of silence I instated to end tonight’s squeeze.

As I write this blog, people are out doing night dives. So exciting! I can’t wait to hear about all the cool things they’ll undoubtedly see.

I’ll end this post with a simple message: Tell those around you what you appreciate about them. Show kindness and acceptance.