Sea|Mester Part 7: Return to the BVIs

After an awesome time in Saba, our trip was finally coming to a close, and it was time to return home to the BVIs. We arrived at about 8:00 am after a starry overnight passage from Saba.

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All hands on deck as we sailed in to Virgin Gorda. Everyone was pretty beat, but we had another busy day ahead of us.

Our first stop was Virgin Gorda, where we dropped anchor and swam to shore to see The Baths, a popular tourist site whee huge boulders litter a white sand beach, forming a complicated network of caverns and tunnels. (Because we swam to shore, most of us didn’t bring cameras, so this picture is from wikipedia)

° I spent most of the time ashore exploring the caverns with Laura Lee, trying to find “Devil’s Bay” (shown above).

° The baths were a lot of fun. Unfortunately they were really crowded at the time we were there (mostly with American tourists), but they were spectacular to see.

° After leaving Virgin Gorda we returned triumphantly to Great Harbour, Peter Island, where we would moor for the night.

° I was the head chef that night, and while I was making dinner underway, we ran into some unexpectedly large waves. Luckily I had just taken a boiling pot of rice off the stove and put it safely in the sink, but a huge amount of water splashed in through the galley hatch and soaked me, along with the salad I was working on. Somehow I still got dinner out on time. That night we completed a writing activity in which we each wrote a 4×5 index card for each of our other shipmates. It was a difficult but rewarding task, and it gave us the chance to meditate one the relationships we had formed over the past 18 days.

On the way back to Tortola the next morning, Kevin, Madd Dog and Chase practiced a song they wrote about the journey

° After just 19 days aboard Ocean Star, sixteen students who had (for the most part) never sailed before were able to bring her safely into port at Road Harbour, Tortola

° Once docked, we devoted a good half a day to “Boat Apprectiation:” cleaning, polishing, and shining everything on board to keep Ocean Star as beautiful and functional as the day we stepped on board.

° Talia and I were deemed the smallest and nimblest shipmates, so we were given the task of cleaning out the bilges in the engine room. It was one of the messiest things I’ve ever done, and it took almost an hour of soaking and scrubbing to get all the grease off of me when we were done. It was actually pretty fun though. (In the picture on the left, Talia is actually in the bilge, probably waist deep in seawater, diesel fuel, and engine oil)

Once the boat was sparkling, everyone showered and mustered on deck for the premier of “Sexy Exie” by Madd Dog and Kevin with Chase and Champ

The final squeeze – everyone’s last chance to share their thoughts about the experience. Kevin, the first mate, made some great points. He talked about how we should cherish the time we had aboard Ocean Star as a completely unique experience that would never happen again, but also challenged us not to let it be our last great experience.

Our awesome instructors: Eric, Julie, Kevin and Casey. Each brought a unique element to the learning experience, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to sail with them.

° That night we had an awesome meal at Pusser’s, a local restaurant and bar (and also rum producer). I had grilled fish with vegetables and some amazing key lime cheesecake.

° After our meal and a few drinks, we left Pusser’s for a slightly rowdier local bar just across the Harbour: The Jolly Roger Inn

° Madd Dog and I debuted our Sailin’ dance, featuring motions commonly performed on board the O-Star

While the rest of our shipmates flew out of Beef Island Airport in the BVIs, Dave, Chase, Champ, Hannah, the Binghams, and I had flights from St. Thomas. We caught a ferry early the next morning.

Chase, Kevin, Matt, and I all had an extra day to stay in St. Thomas, so we split a hotel room in Charlotte Amalie and hit the town. This was the view from our room. By this time, it was the 4th of July, and being that St. Thomas is a U.S. territory, we hoped we could find a raucous parade or celebration. We quickly found out, however, that all the 4th of July festivities are on St. John, which was another expensive taxi and ferry ride away. We still had a great time hanging out at a poolside bar at the resort across the bay (our hotel’s bar was lame), ordering Dominoes to our hotel room, and exploring the town.

Our hotel was within walking distance to the airport, so in the morning we rolled out of bead, headed to the terminal and said our final goodbyes. On the plane home, I took a moment to reflect, writing this on my ipod:

On the plane back now, having a coffee and some airplane cookies. I just read my cards from everyone and they were so nice. Everyone really seemed to apreciate me and had some really nice things to say about me being calm and helpful. Seamester was a great experience in every way and I’m so glad I did it. It was like the college experience of meeting and bonding with people plus sailing plus hiking plus going to sweet islands, and it was with a really kick ass group of people. It was a truly unique experience that as Kevin said will never happen ever again. I guess you could say that about almost anything, but it really applies here. That group will never sail that ship to those islands again. It’s a sad thought, but also a very intruiging and kind of comforting one. So much of the trip and pre trip for me was about taking advantage of possibility but not trying to force things, and the impermanence of the whole experience, as well as the wide range of things we had the chance to do, really hit that home. I am seriously sad to be leaving my new friends and the carribean behind, but I’m also happy to be moving on with some great experiences under my belt. […] Sailing allows you to really appreciate the small pleasures of life. Things like showers and even padded seats can’t be taken for granted as easily on a boat as on land. Sailing forces you into a lifestyle that is very deliberate and very connected. You have to consider every detail, but also be able to handle change and flow with whatever you get. It’s a life that I could totally see myself living.

(Photos marked with ° were taken by other crew members)

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