Location: Ladder Bay, Saba

Today started off with another kind of wake-up. A soft whisper and gentle tap of the shoulder or a slight back rub got everyone up easily with happy faces. After a breakfast of yogurt and granola, we sang Teags a happy birthday for her eighteenth birthday! Then half our group got ready for our first deepwater dive! The other half had shore time on beautiful Saba. As I got ready for the dive, I could feel the high spirits of everyone, excited for the day. The divers were sent off first in dinghies to meet up with a dive group, and the others prepared for a wet entry and steep climb of the ladder into Saba. The ladder is a long staircase that takes about thirty minutes to climb up right after a rocky walk along the beach. Tom described us as sea monsters emerging from the ocean. As the shore group climbed the steps, the dive group boarded the Sea Saba dive boat and prepared our gear. After a rundown from our dive hosts, we hopped into the water and descended to about forty feet. There were quite a few fish around, which caught our eyes. We then headed over to a bed of seagrass at about seventy feet to hopefully see some turtles. Unfortunately, they were all elsewhere. So, we decided to crack some eggs open to see how they would react in the deep water. The first two eggs cracked easily, and we saw how the inside stuck together under pressure. Then the third egg, cracked by Annika, broke into a hundred tiny pieces. We all broke into laughter and tried to keep our regulators in our mouths. This was increasingly difficult as Audrey could be heard laughing underwater, and I wrote “too many beans” on the slate I had. The inside joke, along with the contagious laugh, kept us giggling until we were told we had to keep going. Then we headed back towards the boat over a patch of reef that was absolutely beautiful. I ran out of air right as we reached the top of the reef, so my dive buddy (Audrey) and I headed back up to the surface. As we watched the rest of the group surface, all the smiles and celebrations of getting our advanced water certifications were amazing to see. Once everyone was back aboard, we ate a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly wraps before heading to the second dive spot. We got another rundown of the dive, and all hoped back into the water. We descended again, but this time next to a beautiful wall. We swam over to some exposed reef, where we all saw sea turtles! Two babies are swimming around feeding, and a huge sea turtle is chilling out under a rock. They looked so peaceful and stunning that we all felt so lucky to be so close. Next was swimming through a wall cavern that led back to the ship. It was a tight fit, but everyone got through so easily. We really are getting the hang of this whole diving thing. Some of us have fallen head-over-heels for it. Others, like me, still have some work to do. When I surfaced, I had a head-splitting headache from breathing too much too quickly. I was still able to hear everyone’s celebrations and laughter of the second successful dive of the day. We then headed back to our mobile home, Vela. Nobody was topside, so the dive boat told us to yell for them as we approached. Nobody made progress until Dylan stopped and realized something. We had one of the most distinguishing voices with us. He said, “Why are we all yelling? We have Audrey with us.” She then yelled two whole times before Tom emerged from the chart house, sleep still in his eyes. After getting back on the boat, we took our ocean showers and put our dive gear away. As my headache still had not gone away, I went straight to sleep for the next four and a half hours until dinner. I then woke up to the sound of gophers getting our pasta dinner ready for everyone to feast on. I rounded the troops, and we did a successful count-off. As we ate, the stories of diving and shore time were exchanged. The hike to Mt. Scenic, glass bead making with Jobean, trinkets for the families back home, sick apparel that’s available, all the amazing shore food, the comedian cab driver Elliot, the mural artist and owner of Sea Saba Joan, the wonders of the Bottom and Windward, and the notorious climb of the ladder into Saba have me so excited to have my shore time tomorrow! Of course, can’t forget about the ice cream and ice for our water bottles either. After dinner, I asked everyone for the first memory they had locked away and the days’ appreciation. The memories involved playing football against dogs in the backyard with a cowboy’s helmet, getting feet to tuck in the prison bars of the crib, hiding on top of fridges, and first-time seeing siblings brought home or the sonogram. Surprising to hear how far some of the memories went back. After a speedy clean-up, there was a dance party for Teagen’s birthday as the last celebration before bed. I was sadly downstairs, tending to my headache still. So many kind souls aboard the boat came to check on me to see how they could help. It really made me grateful to be surrounded by so many great people. We really are lucky to be here, and the community we’re a part of is a truly special one.