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Location: Tobago Cays, St. Vincent And The Grenadines

I always wake up before my alarm on my skipper days, too excited to wake everyone else up. Today is my birthday, and I woke up at sunrise. With great difficulty, I managed to control my excitement for another hour and a half. As the clock hit 0700 though, I pressed play on my speaker. “From the day we arrived on this planet, And blinking, step into the sun There’s more to see than can ever be seen More to do than can ever be done.” As the lyrics of The Lion King’s “The Circle of Life” drifted into each bunk, I began to see a leg stir here, and a pair of sleepy eyes look at me there. I greeted each by name and got a mix of groggy and excited “happy birthdays” in reply.

After breakfast, we prepped the boat to go sailing and then piloted our way out of the reef splattered waters that surround Union Island. Clear of all underwater obstacles, each watch team set about raising a sail. Even with only four sails up and 2 of them reefed, we were cruising. The students just recently learned how to tack and jibe the jib but found their groove as we beat our way upwind the Tobago Cays. The sun was shining, but with the stiff breeze, everyone lounged comfortably on deck chatting or just enjoying the bucking motion of Ocean Star as she cut through the water. A kiteboarder even sailed over and showed off with a few tricks as he cruised alongside us. The atmosphere on deck was happy and relaxed but as soon as Ian called out “prepare to tack,” everyone would scramble to their lines to help in the maneuver.

The reefs surrounding the Tobago Cays came into sight in their aqua blue splendor, sails were dropped, and we weaved our way into the sheltered water. Despite all the beautiful islands we have been to so far on this trip, the Caribbean blue of the shallow water, the empty white beaches and distant waves crashing against the outside walls of horseshoe reef left the shipmates in awe. And that was even before they saw all the sea turtles that regularly come to the surface all over these sheltered waters for a breath of fresh air. The students spent their free afternoon snorkeling to the closest island, studying for their later oceanography exam, journaling or merely basking in the beauty of it all. On a quick birthday snorkel during their exam review, I counted over seven turtles grazing the seagrass or swimming by as if I wasn’t even there.

After showers and as everyone was getting ready for the beach bbq, Steph asked me to gather everyone in the cockpit to do squeeze before we went. Everyone had gathered, and I was beginning to wonder what was taking her so long when suddenly everyone started singing happy birthday, and Steph popped out of the charthouse with a cake. We regaled ourselves with pre-dinner brownie cake and then clambered down into dinghies to head to shore. A handful of local guys hold a bbq on one of the beaches. Under the glow of the Christmas lights strung between trees, we settled down onto the long row of picnic tables set out for us. Neil, our local boat boy, brought us platters of grilled lobster, grilled snapper, fried plantains, buttery vegetables, peas and rice, and jerk chicken drums. After dinner we hung out in smaller groups, some sat around and chatted, others wander the beach looking at the stars, and one group even sat around singing songs together. The singing continued as we dinghied everyone back to Ocean Star. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

Till next time,
Carolyn

P.S Happy Birthday, Daddy!!! Can’t think of anyone I would rather share a birthday with 😀 Ma maman c’est grace a toi aussi <3