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Location: Underway to Nevis

This morning we woke up in Gorda Sound with a view of Saba Rock and Bitter End Yacht Club. We promptly picked up anchor and motored out of the channel to the Dog Islands, where we would be wreck diving at Coral Gardens which happens to be a garden of coral. This was my first wreck dive, and was the third specialty dive out of five required for our advanced open water certification. The wreck was amazing! It was an old airline jet that crashed in the ocean in the 60’s, and there were fish and corals inhabiting both the interior and exterior of the plane. We looked inside the windows of the jet and then explored more of the corals, where we saw a giant lobster, a sting ray and a sea turtle.
Immediately after getting back on board Ocean Star, we motored to Spanish Town to get cleared out of the country before our first overnight passage. We had an hour of shore time and some people ate lunch, others bought snacks at the store, or explored the BVI Dive Shop. At 3, we returned to the boat and began swift preparations for raising the sails, pulling the dinghies on board and securing everything in place in order to withstand the rough seas ahead. Eric, the 1st mate, also gave us a thorough briefing on how to administer boat checks. This means that while underway, each hour on the hour, one of us must go into the chart house and log winds, direction, position, sea state, visibility, etc. Then, we have to go down into the loud, hot engine room and make sure the bilges aren’t flooding, that the fuel pressure is good, and a bunch of other details that I won’t get into.
By 6 we were underway and began to realize how difficult life is during passage, as we attempted to eat dinner on deck while crashing through 6-8 foot waves. My pasta was flying everywhere. The first hour of passage was surreal for me. Seeing Ocean Star crashing through waves that sprayed all of us, and sailing further and further away from land until there was none left in sight was a reminder of how powerful and non-forgiving the ocean is, and it was also a reminder of the fragility of life. At any moment, I could lose balance and go overboard, so I had to make sure I was holding on tight as the boat swung from 20 degrees on one side to 20 degrees on the other side.
Our watch shifts run 4 hours on, 8 hours off between three teams. My shift was midnight to 4 am, so I attempted to get some sleep from 9-12. This was quite a challenge as I felt like I was on a crazy roller coaster in my bunk, but eventually I fell into a deep sleep until I was woken up 3 hours later to head up to the helm. Quite a few people had already been sea sick by this point, but I was convinced that my strong vestibular system would prevail through the tumultuous waves. After the first hour, I agreed to do boat check, so Liz and I went down to fill out the logbook and go into the engine room, etc. After coming back up, however, the seasickness hit me and soon enough I was leaning over the stern throwing up. For the remainder of the watch I lied down looking up at the stars or took turns with Riley and Liz at the helm, navigating South East toward Nevis using the stars to guide me. Today was a resilient and exciting day, and arriving in Nevis 24 hours later was one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had on this trip so far. I’m excited to visit this beautiful, mountainous island for the first time.
Maya Raphael