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Location: West End, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Today dawned bright and early for the staff of Ocean Star as we prepared to put the finishing touches on the vessel before students started arriving at noon. Day 1 is always really exciting for us because we have worked really hard to get everything ready, and we wait in eager anticipation for the fresh faces. We have 14 students on board for the semester- 4 girls and ten boys. Along with the four staff members, that makes a nice crew of 18. Despite what the weather reports have predicted, we had a beautiful, hot day with lots of sunshine and blue skies. Students started arriving at noon on the dot, and we busily got to work, helping everyone get settled. It is a bit chaotic when 14 students are all trying to unpack at once in a small space, but it’s coming together! Most people even had the chance to take a refreshing swim by the dock in the afternoon. When the students arrived, each of them had a few important things on their bunk- a PFD (personal flotation device) assigned to them, a Tupperware, and a reusable shopping bag. We take our safety AND our sustainability very seriously at Seamester. The PFD is obviously to keep everyone safe while we are underway. The Tupperware/shopping bags are to reduce the amount of single-use plastic the students use throughout the semester.

We had our first “family dinner” tonight on deck. Everyone gathered ’round and enjoyed a meal together, laughing and getting to know one another. After dinner, we did our first Squeeze, which is where we go around, and each person says their appreciation for the day, and they answer the question that the skipper of the day comes up with. Today the question was, “Why are you here, and what do you hope to gain from this experience?” Many people were excited to learn to dive, others wanted to learn how to sail, and others were seeking adventure in new places. Needless to say, everyone on board is looking forward to learning, changing, experiencing, and growing as a person in many ways throughout this semester. Cheers to the next 80 days!

Pictured: Josh, Jill, Jade, and Joseph on the bowsprit; enjoying the hammock on the bow; students enjoying a swim to cool down after unpacking; Carolyn, Amy, Amanda, and Jon- our Ocean Star staff.