The Telltale



The Telltale
The Telltale
Wind - Rudder Indicator and Tale Bearer of
The Caribbean Sea~mester
British Virgin Islands, Nevis, Grenada
Fall Edition 2005, Volume I
Bios: Who’s on board?
This captain of Near
Operational Director
of Sea~mester and the
rudder that keeps it on
With his
constant smile and
Boomer keeps the
atmosphere fun and
light hearted. Boomer
strives to find the
maximum output of
every person he takes
under his tutelage and will never settle for
mediocrity where he sees greatness. Boomer’s
character is beyond reproach, his comedy
unmatched, and his knowledge of the nautical
way is pristine. His attitude towards everything
onboard turns every calamity into an adventure
and a challenge, and that sentiment is quickly
picked up by his shipmates aboard. Each
shipmate is prudent to soak up as much from this
guy as he/she can before the eighty days come to
a halt, as every anecdote or speech he gives
contains a tightly packed pearl of wisdom.
Boomer lives and breathes saltwater and can’t
get enough of what passes by along passages; his
face lights up like a little school boy when he
gets a fleeting glimpse of an Orca. Also,
Boomer’s passion for fiestas is unmatched and
he makes a darn good pico de gallo.
Greetings from the editors of the Fall 2005
Sea~mester Telltale! Our blood, sweat, and tears have
gone into this first volume of the Telltale to be sure
you are well informed of the hullabaloo onboard the
fine vessels Ocean Star and Near Enough. Please
note: we do not pander.
Thank you,
Mike, Julia, Peter, & Mark
Simon a.k.a. El Capitan or Cappy
Jess a.k.a. Beaker McWeggie or Beaka-Leak
Simon is the beloved and respected captain of
Ocean Star who keeps everyone on their toes
sharp wit and
quiet, Simon
is always in
conversation with his crew and keeps his ear to
the ground about everything that goes on on his
boat. Occasionally Simon will make a guest
appearance in the galley with invariably positive
results. When Simon gets away from the boat he
enjoys surfing and free-diving, both of which he
is more than proficient at. Hands-on learning is
Simon’s preferred approach to everything
nautical and he is willing to show you around the
inside of a generator and trust you with parts of
the repair as well. With Simon at the helm all is
safe and all is fun.
Beaker fills in the
contingency of our
enlightens the crew
would be done back
Loving each critter
enjoys passing on
her knowledge of
all her friends in the diverse Caribbean sea-life to
the shipmates. Beaker is also readily available to
help out and instruct on all the other goings on
aboard Ocean Star and does so in her soothing
British accent. Beak-a-Leak is a great addition
to the Sea~mester staff and is a great person to
share a watch or a cup of tea with.
Chantale a.k.a. C-tal
Chantale is the
first mate on
and brings some
Canadian flavor
table. C-tal is
aware of what is
going on aboard
and is always
making sure that
Chantale is well
versed in marine science and has an intense love
for the subject that is quickly passed on to her
students. She is always available for questions
and teaches on nearly every journey we take.
Just make sure you watch your back around C-tal
as she is always ready to pounce with her
sharpened wit.
Dan is the trusty
first mate aboard
Ocean Star who
rarely finds time for
a break.
breakfast is even
over the Danimal is
already working to
keep Ocean Star
running in peak
shape. Fortunately,
everything with a
huge smile and will drop anything he is doing in
order to teach or help out a shipmate. His quick
wit and penchant for insane hot sauces make Dan
a fun and dangerous person to be around.
Always remember that if the Danimal finds it hot
don’t let it near your lips or eyes.
A recent addition to the Sea~mester staff, Lisette
came aboard as the communications and student
leadership instructor. This Italian finds herself
most comfortable in the galley teaching the
youth how to make a proper sauce. Even when
brownies may bring her trouble, her tortellini is
Lisette is always
willing to try new
things and more
always there to
lend an ear to the
Sea~mester crew.
Ohio. Always willing to lend a hand or an ear,
Drew is a great guy to have around and is
constantly looking out for mother nature. If
Drew isn’t cutting a rug on the Chevy’s dance
floor, making the rest of us look bad hauling on a
line, or diligently doing his homework, he can be
found in his boxers with the elastic rolled down
so that they won’t be so sticky from sweat. In
addition to Sea~mester, Drew will be
undertaking another sailing adventure in the
Spring to hone his already sharp skills.
Kevin a.k.a. Kagee
Kevin is down here for the fall to get away from
“the man,” and to bolster his already well
established sailing portfolio. Kagee is the name
he goes by, but the
origin is unknown
to most.
brings a unique
perspective on life
to Sea~mester in
his belief that we
all should accept
things for what they
whenever possible.
unconfirmed and independent pursuit of goals.
He also dabbles with the banjo, enjoys a nice
bluegrass jam, looking at palm trees, and keeps
an endless arsenal of quips at his side.
Mike a.k.a. Auto or Skittles
Though rugged and
working on board,
Mike decks himself
out in a button
down when the
boy with a warm
heart and a startling
voice was drawn
back to Ocean Star
after a brief stint on
the boat with LifeWorks a few years back. Mike
is rarely seen in the morning without his coffee,
which generally ends up in his lap. He never fails
to down a daily bag of skittles, hence the
nickname. Mike didn’t perform his best on our
first passage and when asked, “How are you
feeling?” he exclaimed from the fetal position,
“I’m dying!” However, he fared a lot better on
the passage to Grenada.
resident yogi on
board who can
saluting the sun in
the early hours.
Despite some early
shyness she has
taught many of us
some very practical
maneuvers. Aspen
is always up for an
exploration and has conquered heights with the
best of them. Deceptively strong, Aspen has
proved very capable on the lines and enjoys a
nice sweating session. Aspen is a great person to
go to for well though out or even jovial
conversation and she is constantly soaking up in
Drew a.k.a. Drewski or Drew-Tang
“Hey Drewski, toss
me a brewski,”
vessels weren’t dry.
Drew knows a great
deal more about
sailing than he
originally let on
which is a bit
confusing due to his
rearing on a farm in
the peace and beauty of our surroundings with
Sadly, Sarah lost her favorite sleeping spot under
the bimini in the hammock with her move to
Ocean Star, but at least she scored the big bunk.
Sarah also learned from Nips that even a real
man can shave his armpits.
Patrick a.k.a.
Hammerpa nts
Luke a.k.a. Snoop-a-Luke
M.C. is generally
quiet and reserved
interesting ability to
disappear from his
periods of time.
always manages to
surprise us with his
subtle humor that
comes out at the most random moments. Also,
M.C.’s skills ni the galley leave the crew of
Ocean Star wanting seconds.
Luke is a die-hard Oregonian with a knack for
sailing and is quite
knowledgeable on
deck. When Luke
is not strumming on
a six-string he can
generally be found
lives with an open
mind and a firm
belief in trying
fluency in Czech make him an interesting
addition to the crew. While hiking Nevis, Luke
lost his video camera to the elusive greenback
monkey but fortunately he made it out alive.
Only two days later, Snoop suffered another
disaster while attempting to perform his evening
duties. The deck of Ocean Star jumped out and
bit Luke in the back of the head, leaving him
with a minor flesh wound and a very buccaneerlooking bandage. Don’t worry Snoop, you and
your camera will seek revenge.
Peter is most often
seen sitting on the
bowsprit in his
orange swimming
trunks strumming
his guitar.
time to time he will
serenade the ladies
with his repertoire
of Johnny Cash,
Neil Young, Jimmy
Buffett, etc. while
harmonica, guitar,
and voice. At every opportunity Peter is the first
to go exploring for new adventures. Along the
way he entertains conversation about philosophy
and tells various anecdotes through expressive
impressions. He also wears his redneck pride
like a badge.
Julia a.k.a. Hulio or Hey DiddleDiddle
Hulio is a seasoned
ActionQuest crew
member since she
has been working
there for the past
few summers. She
came in with a leg
up knowing all the
staff members, but
she quickly got to
know the rest of the
shipmates and is
always open for
conversation with a smile. Hulio doubles as the
crew mom and takes care of any injury with
diligence and pride. At the same time, she cuts
hair for a line of waiting heads. Julia is complete
with a full arsenal of swimsuits and even sports
those that tell you what color they are.
Sarah is a welltrained
Florida and puts her
conversation skills
to work on board.
She holds on to her
Connecticut roots
and is still looking
for a nice horse ride
Nick a.k.a. Jim I Reckon
conversation he is
well thought out
and bright. Jon is
without his blueishpurple
swim shorts and is
always looking for
his next Coke. His
love for the six-man
is unmatched by all
others and one
often wonders if he
will be able to sleep
This down home country boy is a true Southern
gentleman with a flare for comedy. With his
great Tennessee sense of humor, Nick always
laughing and refers
to everything as a
“thing-a-majigger.” Jim is the
first shipmate to
lend a hand to hook
the boat to a “thinga-ma-jigger” even
though he may have
no idea as to what
himself involved in.
Nick doesn’t so
much miss home,
but he is feeling a void from the lack of
barbequed spare ribs that have been grilled until
the meat falls off the bone. On occasion Nick is
seen threatening the fish to a “wrestling” match
and we know he means business when he yells at
them, “Don’ make me jump in there and bust yer
without it back home.
Emily a.k.a. Weyl Child or W.C.
W.C. is always
undertaking a new
benefit of Ocean
Star, whether it be
splicing new sail
ties or fashioning
On top of her
skills, Weyl Child
is a top competitor
games”. No matter
the task at hand, W.C. is always in conversation
with a smile and always has a nice thing to say
about the rest of the crew. Emily is also full of
adventure and one is hard pressed to point out a
challenge that she would turn down.
Being the tallest
always easy, but
Matt manages to
pull it off. He loves
long walks around
the dock, flashlight
lit dinners, and
sweating lines. He
had never been to
sea before this
journey and ran into
a small bout of
sickness on the first
passage, but is quickly obtaining his sea legs.
Matt keeps his physique a priority and he catches
everyone off guard with his dry humor. His
favorite aspect of Ocean Star is falling asleep to
the sultry sound of his bunkmates’ snores.
From the Frisco
Bay, Birdman is a
surfer by heart
which explains his
Mike can entertain
the masses for
“hella” personable
also known for
being the grandson
of the “Birdman” of Alcatraz. Whether or not
this story is true, our Birdman is a really chill
guy who is here for the right reasons and is
rarely seen without his hat or his smile.
Though only just out of high school, Jon has
slipped into the sailing mode quite easily and he
has even become an avid navigator. Perhaps he
is most well known for his incessant sarcasm that
spares no walk of life, however in serious
whole of “The Princess Bride”, singing Disney
lyrics, or even dabbling in some Shakespearean
soliloquies. However one should not be fooled
by his ludicrous dancing to dreadful ‘90’s rap
because underneath the extroverted shell is a
sensitive, firmly opinionated, and strapping
young man. Nips is still adjusting to life aboard
a boat and is not quite spatially aware of his
surroundings, which leads to constant hand and
foot injuries.
Gabe is a Belmont,
MA resident with a
quick wit and the
ability to change
any conversation on
a dime. Gabe is
often known as
Ocean Star’s stunt
man due to his
flips, dives, and
sloppy flying squirrels. Although the morning
wake up call is Gabe’s least favorite activity of
the day, once he gets rolling he is game for
nearly anything. The one phrase that best sums
Gabe up is undoubtedly, “When’s dinner?”
unless of course we our on passage and he can’t
stand to look at food.
consensus from the
Sea~mester crew on
Eric is that he is an
guy, but keep your
eye out for the
mischief up his
Eric is
always found with a
smile whether he is
sitting alone stroking his chin strap in a
contemplative fashion or booting and saying,
“My name is Eric Voorhis and I am not a happy
camper.” His passion for fake steering is only
matched by his desire to perfect the “flying
squirrel” dive. Eric came to Sea~mester with
some serious sailing knowledge under his belt
and is always willing to enlighten his fellow
Quiet and culinary
savvy, Katie finds
humor in most
jokes, but doesn’t
like to let on that
Boomer’s jokes are
enjoys a swim in
shallower water and
that deck buckets
do too. K.T. digs
Harry Potter like any self-respecting American
reader. She enjoys outdoor activities such as
skiing and swimming and smells faintly of lilacs.
It must be that body wash with exfoliating beads.
Theo a.k.a. Theopatra or Chubbs
This Virginian southern belle keeps all around
her smiling with her constant laughing and funny
Theo is
always willing to
lend a hand on deck
and is constantly
looking out for the
well being of those
attribute leads to
disaster. Recently
Theo acquired her
fashioning her hand
reminiscent of Chubbs’ from Happy Gilmore
using a fairlead and some anchor rode. Never
Nathaniel a.k.a.
Natty or Nips
To boil it down,
there is simply no
party without Nips.
performer always
keeps the crew
happy with his
jovial perspective
on life. He is often
found quoting the
fear if Theo asks you to “shoot the fat” because
all she wants to do is chat. Despite her idiomatic
challenges and beyond her giggly exterior, Theo
is a bright girl with a warm and sincere heart.
many of the shipmates this trip wasn’t
immediately real until they used actual plane
tickets to board actual planes and recognized a
few faces off the website in the terminals.
Arriving at the airport, meeting shipmates and
sighting Ocean Star for the first time marked for
many of us the time when a cool idea became a
solid eighty days living and working on a boat.
Inevitably some of the stuff we found on board
did not correlate with all the thinking and
packing and planning we had done: people didn’t
look like their pictures, you brought 20 pairs of
underwear and two bathing suits, and yes you
are going to sleep there.
For the first time , the reality of the trip was
overriding the fantasy. In nearly every respect
this was a good thing. It snapped a lot of us out
of the idleness of summer and maybe the
security of planning versus the reality of
arriving. It was also incredibly hard for some
people, myself being a prime example, to accept
the differences between what we had dreamed
and what we found sitting on our bunks. Of
course, as we sat around the dock talking and
waiting things started to sink in, and finally the
reality of the 80 days and 21 shipmates overrode
the assumptions.
By the time our dinner at Pusser’s was over we
had all shared our individual reasons for taking
this specific trip. It was then that I knew that all
of my theories about how people would be, how
I would be, were totally outweighed by the
reality of everyone there. I was surrounded by
strangers who didn’t even look like their website
pictures and I knew there was nothing any of us
could do but let it ride.
Known to a select
few as Evan, Mark
is a mild-mannered
climbing the mast,
diving to check the
anchor line, or
lifting morale by
eating a beetle, he
is always the first to
jump on a task. Have you ever had money or
valuables that need to be kept safe? Just give
them to Mark! He will keep it in a Ziploc bag,
continuously take it out of his above the knee
shorts, squeeze the air out, refold and promptly
replace it in his pocket. Though Mark/Dad/Evan
is not much of a jokester, he is easily amused
and his distinctive laugh is often heard up to 300
yards away.
Bios by Natty, Peter and Mark
Scuba Diving
Below the surface of the Caribbean Sea lies
another world. Its untainted beauty wows all
who look at it. Scuba diving presents a way of
floating through this world. For many of the
crewmembers this fall, scuba was a new
challenge. The heavy tank, bulky gear, big fins
and dry air all seemed a bit weird at first. It all
feels like too much to feel comfortable when on
land, yet once in the water you feel like there is
nothing there. The weightlessness is a new and
wonderful feeling as one slowly descends
towards the bottom. As new scuba divers, we
started out with basic skills that we practiced in
shallow water. From here, we advanced to
swimming around the many wonders of the coral
reef observing the colorful fish, the strange
Arriving on Sea~mester
Arriving in Tortola was a little strange for
everyone. On top of the fact that a bunch of us
were stranded at the airport eating sketchy
sandwiches waiting for the cab and that Eric
missed his connection due to conveyer belt
failure, the arrival was a bit overwhelming for us
all. Maybe especially strange for those of us
who had been planning and packing and thinking
for weeks, months, (some even years) about
something that had just become reality. For
hunt was on. It was a difficult task diving for the
turtle because it could hold its breath for a
considerable amount of time and swim a lot
faster than one may expect. The turtle under at
about 25 feet, so we were all coming up short.
You could get within inches of the turtle, but
would have to ascend immediately because you
were out of breath. The more excited you got, the
harder you swam and deeper you dove, only to
get more tired. We soon got our wits about us
and surrounded the turtle, driving it towards
shallow waters. After a long 20 minutes of
chasing the turtle, we finally wore it out and it
began to ascend to the surface for a breath. We
were all going for it and kept missing, but Matt
swooped in and plucked it right out of the water.
shapes of the coral reef, and the grains of sand
reflecting sunlight. It is truly unlike anything
you have ever seen before. While the written
tests were challenging, we all got through them
and are all now PADI certified open water
Now that we are open water divers, the wonders
of the world below are now our playground.
Seeing the reefs in the British Virgin Islands was
a breathtaking experience, even underwater.
When you look at things underwater for the first
time you are overwhelmed by their natural
beauty. The clarity of the water made anything
you looked at seem like it was made of glass.
Scuba is an action filled adventure. Every time
you never know what you are going to see. We
are all lucky to have the chance to scuba dive in
such a beautiful place.
MC and Drew
We brought it back to the boat to take a DNA
sample, measure it and tag it. Matt decided to
name the little guy “Ted” for reasons still
unknown to most. After the turtle was accounted
for, Matt released his friend back to the sea,
hoping to one day meet him again.
Mike Birdsong
Turtle Tagging
We have all had a lot of firsts on this trip, but
when we woke up in Mountain Point to find out
that we were to be turtle tagging, I knew that it
was a definite first for most of us. This project is
done in partnership with the BVI Fisheries and
Conservation department and contributes to
understanding growth rates and movements of
sea turtles. We were not sure of the techniques
we would use to go about “turtle tagging”, but
were told that we were to be pulled behind Exy,
our dinghy. When the first team went out we
were made aware that it is a rarity to catch a
turtle, so we didn’t expect to. We got in the
water and proceeded to be pulled by a line, while
wearing our snorkeling gear. If anyone saw a
turtle they were to put their hand up to get the
driver’s attention, and then it was a team effort
diving for the turtle. You are supposed to grab
the turtle by the flippers and then steer it towards
the surface. After being pulled along the coast to
Mountain Point, Matt spotted a turtle and the
Sandy Spit
Sandy Spit is an island in the British Virgin
Islands that could easily be a picture on a
postcard. It is characterized by translucent blue
water, and a single palm tree on a soft white
beach. The heartier members of the Ocean Star
crew endeavored to swim to the island, and
arrived in time for an organized game of ultimate
frisbee. In this intense competition, team two
came back from a 2 point deficit to defeat a
disheartened team one 3 to 2. After the game,
some shipmates chose to circumnavigate the
small island while others crossed the rocky
shallows to a neighboring island.
climbing the hill, we skillfully dodged the cacti
and mountain goats, and were justly rewarded
with a beautiful view of Ocean Star, Near
Enough, and Sandy Spit.
Luke Mathers
Nevis, eagerly awaiting the imminent adventure
and change
of pace. For
most of us,
nautical mile
would be our
to spend time
out on the
with no land
through the
Round Rock
passage was our official departure from the
British Virgin Islands, and once we were clear of
it, we put up the sails, cut off the engine, and
were finally sailing in the true sense of the word.
The three hours on, six hours off watch rotation
began with Simon’s group, consisting of Mike,
MC, Weyl Child, Gabe, and John. They set the
standards for the watch tasks and activities,
which were manning the helm, bow watching,
and hourly position plots and boat checks,
interspersed with edifying conversations and
lively games of “Who am I?”. Though I slept
through the first group’s late night watch, I am
told that Simon and Weyl Child kept everyone
entertained with jokes and amusing anecdotes,
and a flying fish jumped on deck to join the
party, colliding with Gabe’s foot in the process.
After a mid-ship muster with Danimal, our
fearless leader, Luke, Matt, Mark, Aspen, and I
relieved the first group of their duties. Fueled by
Weyl Child’s delicious assortment of cookies,
we passed the time in excellent spirits, singing,
talking, and laughing our starlit hours away. We
were lucky enough to have guest appearances
from Julia and Natty, who made crucial
contributions to our vocal musings at the bow.
When the time came, we roused the rest of the
third group from their slumber, namely Eric,
Drew, John, Lisette, and Beaker, and retired to
our cabins for a much-needed rest. The
consensus I gathered from watch team number
three was that Beaker’s voice and stories made
for pleasant listening, and Natty created a clever
and catchy Sea Shanty during his alone time at
the bow.
Watch two was back on for the misty sunrise
over Saba, which Mark, Luke, and I admired
from the bowsprit. Later on that morning, as we
Sailing on Near Enough
In the early afternoon we set sail from coral
gardens towards Great Peter Harbor. In the
morning we had enjoyed a great dive at coral
gardens. We set our sails and sailed off our
mooring in the coral gardens. We sliced through
the waves under wind power alone. We never
needed our motor. Once we arrived in Great
Harbor Peter we sailed onto the mooring there.
After several tries we finally lassoed our
“submarine mooring”. Apparently being able to
sail from mooring to mooring is not a common
trait amongst modern sailors. The crew of Near
Enough is satisfied with their new found
Passage to Nevis on Ocean Star
After extensive preparation, including setting the
jack-lines, practicing man overboard drills, and
securing all loose objects for a forty degree heel
on either tack, the Ocean Star crew was finally
ready for our first overnight passage. We bid
goodbye to Spanishtown, which had been our
societal haven for the morning, and set out for
were nearing our destination after a rocky and
windy cereal breakfast, Mark pulled in a sixteen
inch rainbow runner, which he deemed too small
to be a worthy meal for the crew and released.
We anchored in Nevis in the early afternoon,
feeling like true sailors from the twenty-four
hour passage and hungry for more.
Theo Higginson
provided a fair degree of culture shock. Unsure
of the thoughts
of others, I
found myself
quite intrigued,
advice of our
loyal captain,
Jamaikie’s for a
nearly gourmet
Caribbean meal
(served out of a
retired school
bus painted in
its respective colors.)
Besides food, most
fulfilled their technological “jones” via the
internet café at the edge of Charleston. Myself, I
discovered the public library, which provided
proficient internet at a quarter of the price.
Before we departed our initial destination, we
were blessed with a night out at Chevy’s (little
bar on the beach). Still in search of some local
flavor, I made friends with the only two locals in
sight and received some personal insight into life
on Nevis. In addition, we
all were able to socialize in
conversations of a much
looser nature. In all, Nevis
Caribbean tour and ended
well with the night at
Wahoo on Near Enough
It was the
passage from
Virgin Islands
to Nevis. The
passage was
most of us,
and we were
just excited to
voyage. It was 8:30, and the passage started off
really peaceful, the sails were up, the wind was
blowing, and the fishing lines were set.
Suddenly Nick jumped up yelling “We got
ourselves one!” Sure enough, the fishing line on
the stern was unraveling fast, Nick was having
trouble with the line, and seeing him in need, I
sprung from the galley and grabbed a hold of the
line and began reeling in that big fella with my
bare hands. We couldn’t decide if it was a
barracuda or a wahoo. Once we had wrestled that
beast onto the deck we concluded that it was a
wahoo. Nick was forced to resort to smiting it
with a winch handle in order to subdue the
fearsome beast. Flapping at 2 feet 6 inches, and
weighing in at 15 pounds the Wahoo lay before
us, a worthy catch.
After a few minutes of standing in awe, the
motion was made to have an early supper,
courtesy of Boomer: wahoo stew. The wahoo’s
taste was even better than its fight.
The Source
It was a rainy morning in Nevis like every other
day we spent there. As the Sea~mester crew
finished getting ready for the big day that lay
ahead of us, the two dinghies Exy and the big
trooper Tiny Tim took turns bringing everyone to
shore. Four trips later, the whole crew was back
together again. It took two big taxis, which were
vans, to fit everyone in. When we were all piled
in, the taxi drivers drove us to the base of the
Golden Rock mountain trail that was going to
lead us to the water source that supplies the
whole island of Nevis.
After completion of our maiden off-shore
voyage, Nevis was quite the awaited destination
of the newly acclimated Sea~mester posse.
Compared to t h e B.V.I. and Grenada, Nevis
One by one, we made our way out of the vans to
the old sugar mill that marked the start of our
expedition. The first thing we saw were the
actually green.
Passing small
houses, boars,
lemon trees, and
finally made our
way completely
civilization. The
hike to the top
was intense and
tedious as we
pipes through the jungle across cliffs through
streams and up muddy slopes to “the source”.
We were not sure what to expect, but were all
amazed to see hidden on the peaks of this jungle
covered mountain a beautiful waterfall, pouring
into a crystal clear pool. A few of us were brave
enough to trust a tall rusty ladder bolted into the
cliff to the top of the waterfall where the views
of the valleys below were breathtaking. After we
all got the chance to climb the old rickety ladder
and take in the beautiful view it was time to head
back so we would not mis s the last dinghy run.
Although the hike was challenging, it was an
experience that I will never forget and that goes
for all of us. It was challenging, but we all had a
great time and have a lot of beautiful pictures
and funny stories to remember and tell when the
end of our eighty day voyage ends and we arrive
back home.
Barb’s lab
Recently, the Sea~mester crew visited Barb, a
local marine biologist on the island of Nevis.
From the docks
about twenty of
us piled into two
vans and rode
across to the far
side of the island.
what to expect,
we were happily
surprised to see
that Barb was
looked as though
she would have
milk and cookies
for all of us. Except instead of milk and cookies
she had a variety of shells, corals, and crustacean
exo -skeletons. Listening to her talk in depth
about each object infected the whole crew with
her obvious passion for sea life and the ocean
and no one hesitated to ask questions.
The best part of the visit perhaps was the
creatures that lived in the two live tanks built
inside of a closed in porch facing the ocean.
There were types of starfish, anemones, conch,
and crabs in one tank, and baby sea turtles she
was raising to release back to the wild in the
other. We got to hold and ask questions about
each and every sea creature, even the turtles. It
was all pretty amazing but the best part is
knowing that the things we learned from Barb
will be applicable in the following months of our
Caribbean journey as we experience them first
Shower Time
Life aboard Ocean Star is very different from
any time I’ve had previously. Before this trip, I
had friends and family constantly surrounding
me, my own room, Internet access, a newspaper
and a closet of clothing. Now I have a new set of
friends whose backgrounds span the world, a
bunk, a cubby, and a uniform of bare feet and
bathing suits. I haven’t talked to my family in a
week. Classes are enjoyable and my school has a
motor attached to it. This is my life for the next
two months.
It’s not that I feel limited by this new life; in fact,
I find it incredibly refreshing. I’m genuinely
enjoying not having things from my average
world. I’ve come to realize, in only a few short
days, how unnecessary some are to conducting a
reasonable day. These proposed ‘limitations’ are
actually assisting our group to bond. Cooking
together, hanging out at night and doing all the
same assignments have encouraged the
realization that these people are not just
classmates; each is going through this journey
with me. At home, we would live our lives with
our own schedules. Here, we all follow a similar
schedule. We all eat, hang out and even shower
My favorite time of day on this ship has turned
out to be shower time. While not quite a
‘shower,’ the time is when we all bathe together
in the warm seawater. Most every afternoon
around 4 o’clock, someone breaks out their body
wash and shampoo. Since we’re already all clad
in bathing suits, we begin to jump in the clear
water. We splash around and get clean; rather, as
clean as possible. After the body wash and
shaving gel is put away, we float around for a
while longer, savoring the afternoon.
At home, my personal time was always shower
time. I come from a large household with lots of
activity. Even a shut door wasn’t a message to go
away; on the contrary, it signified someone was
behind it and you could always go in to chat. The
shower was the only place to find some privacy.
time’ really isn’t possible on the boat, and while
healthy, time alone will be found in other forms.
I can share this time with others because it’s so
enjoyable. No one minds bathing together. We
lather up, share shampoo and talk about the
obvious pluses and minuses of each brand.
Everyone is having fun. I like to swim out and
watch shipmates attempt Olympic-level jumps
with neighborhood pool results. It’s hilarious. I
really do want to get up there and show everyone
a proper inside tuck, but would rather not
embarrass myself.
While floating around, we share our amazing
days with each other. We talk about our lives
here and comparing them to abroad. I can’t help
but think of my friends who would boast when
they found out their dorm room had a suite style
shower, sharing it only with three people. I love
my shower. I don’t even complain about sharing
it with eighteen others, minimum. While bathing
is a necessity, ‘shower time’ is really our social
As for alone time, I still find it. It’s now come
reading a book at night when everyone else falls
asleep or writing while everyone else is up on
deck. Additionally, I find myself needing less of
it. At least for now, I’m comfortable dedicating
most of my time to my ship and my shipmates. It
all works out for the best.
I’ve always viewed water as an avenue to
freedom. Once out on an open body of water,
sailing, swimming, one can go anywhere. Water
is possibilities. I view our shower time as
another form of freedom: off the boat for just a
few minutes, hanging out, floating wherever we
want to go.
I would always shower late at night. The door to
the bathroom I shared with my 13-year-old
brother was always either locked or buried under
a pile of his cloths hanging on the hook. Once
pried open, I would ready the water, disrobe and
step under the warm running water. I would sing
or go over a speech I had to make for class,
anything any normal person would do in front of
a mirror. It was my five minutes of freedom, and
it was always a nice break.
Now that I’m here, I really don’t mind sharing
my shower time. I have come to realize ‘alone
Life from the Cockpit of Near
With a sad farewell, I hopped into a dinghy with
my duffel and three other shipmates and made
through the
Ocean Star
to set sail, it
helping hand
from every
that keep us
anchored and
sunburn must be taken down. The sail covers
and sail ties must be rolled, folded, and stowed
in the big red “Santa” bag. Exy, our everyday
dinghy, has to be hoisted on deck and securely
fastened. This requires a muscular crew of men
and women that hoist to the cadence “2-6
Heave.” This cadence will be echoed throughout
the process of hoisting and sweating lines to
raise the usual four sails (mainsail, foresail,
staysail, jib, and sometimes if we are lucky and
the conditions are right we raise two more sails
to really make her go). All the hard work is well
paid for when you look up and see all the sails
perfectly trimmed and you are traveling just by
the power of Mother Nature, the way it was
meant to be.
Auto (Mike McB)
the 50 ft passage to my new home. As water
slapped me across the face and dampened my
bag, I began to get excited for my 10 day training
session aboard Sea~mester’s 45 ft cruising boat,
Near Enough.
We were greeted with a
welcoming, “Hey man, throw your bags over
there,” from Captain Boomer. Chantale, the
resident scientist and first mate aboard, helped
brief us on the concept of Near Enough. While I
expected the “comfy” Near Enough to be all fun
and games it turns out I was mistaken. Time on
Near Enough is meant to be the practical modern
sailing training, while Ocean Star is more
traditional. Captain Boomer’s mission is to
To Grenada on Near Enough;
Part Un
We shipped out from Nevis around 7:00 am and
said farewell to Pinney’s beach, and the fine
town of Charleston. After a night out at Chevy’s
the spirits were high and we were all very
e xcited about the passage. We were all going
offshore for three days to rely only on each other
and the boats that carry us.
The wind was steady and blowing in our favor as
we set sail. We were cruising toward Grenada at
around 7 knots, the weather was beautiful and we
couldn’t have been more content. As the swells
got larger and Near Enough began to roll, some
of the crew began to feel a slight bit green. The
stench of sulfur fuming out of Montserrat as we
passed did not help the matter. Gabe and Theo
began to boot back and forth on the leeward side
as we bounced along. Fortunately, the booting
teach us aspects of sailing we are more likely to
use when chartering a boat or sailing by
ourselves. Much of the sailing technique and
knowledge he passes on to us would be difficult
to find anywhere else in the world. Living on
Near Enough is a good change of pace and a
different, but welcomed, learning environment
from Ocean Star that should be taken full
advantage of by every shipmate.
Gabriel “Esquire”
Work on Ocean Star
Ocean Star is a gorgeous vessel that requires a
lot of hard work to make her beautiful, black hull
that occurred on this fine day was accompanied
by smiles and laughs. I too joined the boot and
rallies later in the day which may or may not
have been due to handling canned chicken down
below. We all felt better later in the evening,
and pushed back the bimini to enjoy the stars.
We were already getting used to the two hours
on, four hours off watch schedule, and the night
watches were full of stories and laughs. The
wind began to die and shift southerly which is
very uncommon in these parts. Around 11 am
the next day, most of the crew were on deck and
the wind began to pick up. We had been powersailing
some time and
decided to fall
off in order to
catch a bit of
following this
maneuver, the
main sail blew
out as the
head of the
sending most
of the sail in
the water and the halyard to the top of the mast.
We sprung into action and had the sail back on
board, flaked and down below in no time. Of
course we weren’t happy about loosing a sail but
the crew morale was unaffected and the
adrenaline was pumping.
We feasted on some turkey and PB and J
sandwiches for lunch and proceeded to sail with
our lonely jib under power. It didn’t take very
long for more excitement to come our way.
Theo was on the bow enjoying herself and
spotted something off our port side. Most of the
crew assumed she may have been pointing at
dolphins, when a six foot dorsal fin protruded
from the water and Boomer put his arms up and
yelled “Orcas!”. Two killer whales then came
right up on our port side to check us out then
headed off in the distance. We were all in a state
of shock, and even Chantale and Boomer
reverted to a child-like state. After all the
commotion, Mark anchored himself in the galley
and a few hours later came up with an incredibly
delicious and beautiful meatloaf.
We were beginning to run slightly low on fuel
due to the small capacity of Near Enough’s tank
and the poor luck with wind we were
We considered changing our
course and tacking all the way to Grenada but
decided that would take about a week. The idea
of taking diesel from the Ocean Star also crossed
our minds but the weather turned, preventing any
dinghy runs between boats. The wind picked up
and the rain came down in buckets so we decided
to turn off our engine and sail through the night.
To Grenada on Near Enough:
Part Deux
Our third day of the action-packed Grenada
passage was a day of resolution, repair, and
general celebration. As the rain cleared and the
sun rose, the time arrived to cure Near Enough
of her diesel thirst. We headed her for Ocean
Star at 0600 hours, where the Danimal, manning
Irving (our dinghy), retrieved Chantale and
Theo. The two crew members went to work to
get diesel in the engine room. After 6 jerry cans
were poured into her belly, Near Enough
returned to her happy state with her needle at
full. Chantale and Theo returned without even a
remote hint of green on their faces.
Accomplishment number one.
For the next two hours, Near Enough maintained
her southerly track with the wind at her nose.
However, as the wind shifted easterly and the
furling unit clanged like a caged monkey in the
mast, inspiration to repair our mainsail solidified.
A noble Mark made his way up the mast to
retrieve the main halyard and initiate the repair
process. As Mark returned to the cabin top with a
few new bruises and tender inner thighs, mission
sail repair in the cockpit began. Mark summed
up his experience atop the mast by saying, “I felt
pretty safe with Boomer at the winch, but clung
to the mast like it was a long lost lover
nonetheless.” Aspen and Julia worked away to
re-establish the head and tack of sail. “It was
incredible to have a connection between myself
and the physical sailing of the boat,” Aspen
comments on her contribution. With a proper
sail, the whole crew got together to re-furl the
main into the mast. “It was a good drill,” states
crew member Eric. Accomplishments two, three,
and four.
With Near Enough back in shape and some
easterly winds coming across the port bow, the
Near Enough crew pressed on their track toward
Grenada with two full sails. The day continued
with increasing speed and general merriment
among the crew. As the last evening arrived, the
crew charted
their progress
around 0100
Through the
realized a new
fear of ghosts
conquered his
booting habit.
0500 arrived
with sunrise and Grenada a mere twenty miles
away. The crew found time for quick naps on
Tiny Tim (our dinghy) and in the salon. As Gabe
helmed the boat around the southern point of
Grenada, the Near Enough crew prepared to drop
anchor. With the hook set by 1000 hours, the
Grenada passage found its conclusion in a new
anchorage. Our fifth and final accomplishment
for the morning.
Slowly dragging our heels and rubbing our eyes ,
we approached the shore after our three-day
passage. We were now to tour Grenada and
observe first hand the destruction of Hurricane
Piling into two taxis our guides, Errol and Zebra,
took us through Grenada in an educational
manner. As we drove up the winding Grenada
roads, we saw tattered homes and much
construction. Although the city repairs seem far
from finished, the progress has been phenomenal
with the aid of the Cuban, Venezuelan and
American governments. Continuing the tour, we
were captivated by Fort Frederick, a French fort
ultimately taken over by the British. Exploring
the tunnels and looking out over the island
guided us back in time to a world of adventure
and intrigue. We stared in awe at the
magnificence of the island as our tour progressed
up the mountain toward our final destination.
Once we arrived at the path to hike the Seven
Sisters our group plodded down the trail with
much fervor, as we longed to jump from the
waterfalls. Although the rains from the night
before had caused a slippery trek, once we came
upon the first waterfall our efforts seemed well
worth it. We spent the afternoon swimming in
cool waters and adrenaline pumped as some of
us climbed to jump from the first of the seven
A Whole New World: Grenada
Trekking back towards the taxis we began to
wind down and prepare for the drive back to
Prickly Bay Marina. As a whole our tour and
hike proved to be just another exciting day for
the Sea~mester crew. We were once again able
to further our knowledge of new cultures and
allow ourselves to come into a more worldly
state of being.
Emily W.
Our days on Sea~mester are very busy. Before
you know it, it’s already dinner time. Whether
the day was spent scuba diving or hiking, there
might have been very little time for reflection.
The squeeze provides the crew of Sea~mester
with some much-needed time for introspection.
No matter how busy our day was, every evening
we take the time to step back from the ship’s
bustle and reflect on our day. What makes
squeeze so interesting are the questions. We’ve
had the usual: “what do you miss most from
home?” or “what was your favorite part of
today’s activities?” We’ve also had some more
eccentric squeeze questions such as “describe
your first slow dance” or “if you could be any
animal, what would you be?” Sometimes the
answers to these squeeze questions are very
thoughtful and other times they’re quite silly.
Either way, the squeeze is always a meaningful
time. If the squeeze responses were funny and
we all shared a laugh while holding hands, that’s
a lot of fun. If the question is more serious and
the answers are deeper and more thought
provoking, that’s also very worthwhile. The
question doesn’t seem to matter so much because
every squeeze has brought us closer together as a
group. Whether we are asked to talk about our
favorite pastime or what we’d like to change
about ourselves, the responses are always
interesting. I’m amazed how many important and
random things I’ve learned about each crew
member through the squeezes.
The Squeeze
Today, as I write this telltale, I am Ocean Star’s
skipper. As skipper I have many roles on Ocean
Star, some are more traditional such as making
sure that our BVI flag is raised every morning
and that breakfast is ready by 7:30 am. One of
the more interesting tasks that I am charged with
as skipper is coming up with tonight’s “squeeze”
Every night before we eat dinner, unless we are
on passage, we engage in an activity known as
“the squeeze.” We sit around our table and hold
hands with the people immediately adjacent to
us. The skipper then poses a question and gives
his answer. He then squeezes one of the hands he
is holding; it is that person’s turn to answer the
question. This continues around the circle until
everyone has given a response.
The Telltale
Wind - Rudder Indicator and Tale Bearer of
The Caribbean Sea~mester
Union, Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Bequia, St. Lucia
Fall Edition 2005, Volume II
Water Water everywhere, and
lots for us to drink
Word from the Editors
Hello again from the crew of Ocean Star and
Near Enough. Days 20 through 40 have provided
even more adventures for your reading pleasure.
Please kick up your feet, relax, and enjoy more
tales of Sea~mester. As we've said before, we’ll
say again: we do not pander.
When living onboard a sailing vessel for any
long period of time, it is important to know that
fresh water and electricity are not as readily
available as they are when living on land. They
only last as long as the tanks are full and as long
as the generator works. The generator only
works as long as the supply of diesel fuel lasts.
There isn’t a gas station right down the road,
mostly because there are no roads, but also one
wouldn’t find many Sunoco, Shell, or Mobil
stations floating out at sea.
Ocean Star is capable of creating her own fresh
water from salt water through the process of
Even with this ability, it is
essential that we use water sparingly. The
desalination process is powered by the generator,
which malfunctioned because the bearing and
seal in the coolant circulating pump wore out,
causing the generator to be inoperable. After
Mike, Julia, Peter, & Mark
contacting the Sea~mester office, we were
informed that they could place an order for the
new cooling pump part, and that it would be in
the mail via FedEx as soon as possible. In the
mean time we have been rationed to 3 ladles of
fresh water per day to wash down our hard tack.
All right, I’m told I must tell the true story.
Otherwise I won’t be receiving my water ration
for today.
To deal with our water issue we have made some
unexpected stops to take on water. We have also
cut back on excessive and unnecessary fresh
water usage from our two 210 gallon fresh water
holding tanks. Through the crew’s ingenuity and
determination, we have managed to capture up to
30 gallons of fresh rain water at a time, and cut
our daily fresh water use to between 20 and 80
gallons. In the U.S. it may seem unwise to drink
rain water, but in the Caribbean the clouds are
formed over the open Atlantic Ocean, and
provide us with crystal clear drinking water.
Well that’s the long and short of Ocean Star’s
water conservation, and now I’m allowed my 3
ladles of water; I mean my fresh water shower.
people began to figure it out and would be able
to ride downwind and upwind. Some of us were
even able to tack after a few days. Our beginner
skills may become a bit rusty by the time we get
to a spot where we can ride again, but I’m sure
that after another chance on the board we will be
ripping across the seas as well.
Boom Swingers
SPLASH! The sound of shipmates slapping the
water echoes off the starboard stern. As my
fellow shipmates and I hurl ourselves through
the air, onlookers cheer as bodies land in the
water. All this excitement was due to the boom
swing, which was engineered by Simon. The
boom swing is in essence a rope swing off the
starboard side of the boat. The boom is hoisted
up and hung across the starboard side. A rope
dangling from the end of the boom is then used
to swing from the pin-rails and fling your body
through the air into the water. More fun than
actually swinging off the rope, perhaps, was
the other
through the
with back
flips, they
back flops.
We banded together cheering,
Windsurfing in Tobago Cays
To say the least, windsurfing is a bit difficult for
someone who has never stepped on a board
before. It was hard to learn all of the aspects of
controlling the board. First, we had to master our
balance on the board. After a long while of
to balance
pulling up
the sail, we
figure out
what to do
got going.
people on
watch” to
those who
floated too
far away. The dinghies would bring the
windsurfers upwind for another opportunity. We
had days with some good wind so Boomer and
the staff would go ripping by us, sending us into
a state of deep frustration. Eventually some
yelling, and laughing each time a daring
shipmate attempted another swing. While some
of us flopped till our sides were red and others
laughed till their sides hurt, it’s safe to say a
good time was had by all.
We ran into Problem #1 as we approached the
island. A combination of winds and current
created powerful surf that churned up the bottom
silt and threatened to beach the dinghy. We were
forced to disembark in about four and a half feet
of water, where we ran into Problem #2: coral.
The sand hid the fact that there was a coral reef
all the way up to the beach. This was troubling in
an ecological sense but I was also jeopardizing
my goal. I carefully made it to the beach
unscathed. Lucky I brought my shoes; the island
was covered in thick, sharp blades of grass and
rocks coughed up by the sea. After Nips’ search
for Jack Sparrow’s rum locker proved unfruitful
(Problem #3), we resigned ourselves to
circumnavigating the island. Apart from Mark
gutting a dead sea slug, the island proved to be
about as worthwhile as reality TV (Problem #4).
Not to be outdone by the seeming lack of
entertainment, we amused ourselves with races
along the shore and other such forms of
merriment. After having exhausted ourselves
with beach games and the like, we waved for the
dinghy to bring us back.
I opted to take the second trip back as I needed to
work up a little confidence before I braved the
reef again. I watched my shipmates motor
towards Near Enough only to have the outboard
die (Problem #5). Apparently one of the
shipmates had kicked out the fuel line. Efforts to
restart the motor proved futile. The crew in the
dinghy broke out the oars, which were swiftly
broken in half (#6). Then the currents started
pushing the dinghy towards the beach (#7). At
this point, as we attempted to restart the motor,
the rest of us managed to turn the boat around
and push it back out to sea. As the shipmates on
board the dinghy made it back to Near Enough,
Petit Tabac
After roughly three weeks aboard the vessels
Ocean Star and Near Enough, I became
accustomed to the daily nicks, scrapes, lesions,
bruises, cuts and other minor injury that occur
with life on board. Nevertheless, such wounds
prove problematic as they mar my fine figure
and cause general discomfort. Thus, I made it my
mission to avoid such abrasions as best I could,
trying making it through an entire day.
On Day 26, I made it through the entire morning
without a scratch. Such success had me
encouraged about the rest of the day’s potential.
You can thus imagine my trepidation at the
lunchtime announcement that we would be
mounting an expedition to Petit Tabac that
afternoon. For those lacking an intimate
knowledge of Caribbean geography, Petit Tabac
lies across the reef from the Tobago Cays and
possesses the unique claim to fame of being the
island where Captain Barbossa marooned Jack
Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann in the motion
picture, Pirates of the Caribbean. Hence its
more obnoxious nickname: “Johnny Depp
Island” (I personally cannot see why Keira
Knightley does not receive any credit here, she is
a much finer specimen of Homo sapien). For
those who have not seen the movie, just imagine
a sand bar with palm trees.
Not being one to turn down an adventure, I
joined the expedition despite my success in
abstaining from injury that morning. I simply
decided to be careful and wear shoes. So I piled
into the dinghy and off we went.
the next load and I waded into the surf to be
picked up. Mind you I had made it through this
little jaunt without injury. As I carefully stepped
over coral I rejoiced over my success, until I
jumped into the boat. As I pushed against a coral
to propel myself into the boat I split the sole of
my left foot (#8). The moral of the story is that
sometimes the island isn’t as cool as it was in the
movie, nevertheless, that doesn’t stop this
strapping crew from having a good time. So if
life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
P.S. I have since made a full day without injury,
so hooray for me!
Happy Gilmore when I attempt a thumbs-up,
which is what inspired the nickname. Though
somewhat painful, the incident gave us all a
good laugh at the latex glove I wore to keep the
injury dry, and it left me with an emasculated
right hand affectionately known as Chubbs, so
I’ll end by saying that I’m Theo Higginson, and I
am a happy camper.
Chubb’s Anchor Adventure
These people come from all over to see the
Caribbean on a windjammer sailing cruise.
When we arrived in Mayreau they attacked us
with countless water balloons from every
direction. We thought we should retaliate, but
our captain, Boomer, said not to. We were
concerned because the balloons, if swallowed by
a sea turtle, could lead to its death.
They partied hard into the night and when they
left the harbor they fired off their cannons. This
was at 2 am. Windjammer people are a highly
different breed of tourist.
So watch out
Caribbean Sea.
It just so happens that Chubbs is of the male
gender. As a girl’s hand, you would think that
he’d be female, but after the accident, he took on
a name and identity of his own. It all started one
blustery night on Near Enough when we were in
the midst of a terrific squall in the Tobago Cays.
We were dropping a secondary anchor to keep
from dragging when the anchor rode, which we
were hauling up, managed to slip out of its
fairlead. I reached down to guide it back in,
foolishly letting my hand get too close. In the
wind-and-rain-induced confusion, I didn’t hear
the order to release the line and let the anchor
take up the slack. After everyone let go and as
the anchor pulled the line taut, my hand slipped
into the fairlead along with it, contorting rather
painfully in the process. Boomer the Great
quickly came to the rescue, bellowing for all
hands to haul on the line, which released the
pressure enough for me to extract my precious
hand. The result was swollen, a little bloody, and
generally less than pretty, but Julia gave me
tender, loving, medical care, and the rest of the
Near Enough crew went above and beyond to
maintain my comfort and happiness late into the
night. Boomer dinghied me to Canouan the next
morning, where we got a second opinion from
his friend Andy, after enjoying a cup of coffee
with Andy’s wife, Julie, and their dogs. My hand
is rapidly improving but lost just enough
dexterity to resemble Chubbs’ wooden hand in
We sailed into Mayreau around three o’clock
which was generally good even though the
Windjammers anchored soon thereafter. That
night we were all lulled into uneasy sleep by
their drunken renditions of “Teenage Dirt Bag”
and “Tainted Love”. Some of us woke early and
had some time to see the many colored roofs that
dotted the island before the Windjammers had
time to wake up, get drunk, and begin throwing
water balloons onto our bows. It is actually
impressive that they were able to hit us
considering the widespread inebriation on board.
Regardless, I think it is fair to say that everyone
on Ocean Star and Near Enough was
embarrassed to be of the same species.
We quickly organized to get on land before the
Hawaiian t-shirts and fanny-packs took over.
Since none of us had made contact outside of the
boat in five days, we ran for the nearest phones
and internet cafés without really taking in our
surroundings. Many of us were dismayed to find
that the internet cafés lacked computers and the
phones were missing essential parts like
earpieces and wires. Unable to communicate
with people very far away, we began to look
around us. I think in the end we were lucky that
we couldn’t email and make phone calls for had
it not been for the initially frustrating lack of
electricity, only a few of us would have seen
how quietly amazing Mayreau was.
Matt and I split off to find the tiny stone church
atop the island and on our way we found houses,
gardens and people waking up. We quickly
began to realize that Mayreau was different from
the other islands we had visited in that the chief
purpose of the people there was living as
opposed to entertaining us. We found ourselves
walking to school with some kids when the
schoolmaster came slowly out of his roofless,
partially ruined, beautifully painted house in a
pristine suit and holding a shining briefcase. We
followed his slow, uncommonly dignified steps
up the hill to the small yellow schoolhouse that
he and fifty children comfortably shared.
As we came to the peak of the hill, we heard the
kids sing ‘Amazing Grace’.
Their raw,
uncannily harmonized voices followed us down
the other side of the hill where we found a
simple wooden arch that led to a path lined with
conch shells. At the end of the path there were
many beautiful and crumbling graves. Although
nearly all of them were adorned with fresh
flowers, the relatives had made no effort to clear
the weeds or repair the cracking headstones.
Most the graves held people who lived more than
100 years. The graveyard felt like the source of
a feeling that had been growing on us since we
first entered the neighborhood—that time on
Mayreau seemed slow and forever. There was
no discordance between the people and their
island. No one fought the natural effects of time
and nature on the slowly decomposing graves;
instead, the flowers they placed there seemed to
commemorate not only the person’s death but
also the life that had continued afterwards. It
was like the schoolmaster who chose to paint the
remains of his roof in bright colors rather than
clear them—it was as though the cracks were left
untended as a sign of respect for entropy. It
made total sense, but I had still never been to a
place where the respect for life extended to
encompass its inevitable counterpart.
As we walked down the hill to the boat, we
passed many
out of breath
tourists that
had attempted
to climb the
hill but had
thought better
of it and were
Tshirts. It was
hard for us to
chances were
that they were
going to miss (and would probably continue
missing) most things that are worth seeing.
The water darkened as we got further from shore,
the dinghies pushed slowly through the water,
heavily loaded with the weight of the 17 divers
about to venture down and explore the remains
of the ship Purini, a scuttled 140 ft. WWI
gunboat. After putting on our scuba gear, weight
belts fastened, BCD’s secure, tanks pressurized,
and mask and fins snug and ready to help guide
us on our imminent adventure, we were ready to
go down.
The water is a light blue at first, about five feet
down shapes appear on the seafloor but it’s
difficult to tell what you are looking at. Almost
instantly the entire ship comes into focus,
thousands of fish have claimed the massive
wreck as their home. Swimming over the wreck
you see dozens of fish swimming through
portholes. You observe the tons of rusted metal
that once sailed the waters as a battle ship and
now lie permanently thirty five feet below the
originality and thoughtful craftsmanship to the
Bequia experience.
As I started to reach the town, the path I had
been following turned into the main street that
was separated from the sidewalk by a garden that
surface. Beams crossing over each other, large
metal plates bent and twisted by the sea, the
original beauty of Purini is hard to recognize at
first, the ocean and the weight of the ship has
collapsed it. The most preserved part of the ship
is the huge boiler, a cylinder of massive size now
covered in corals and anemones. It is the tallest
remaining part of the ship and is an amazing
array of colors compared to the steel color it
once was. Hidden behind the boiler are the
propellers, the two giant props make good hiding
places for fish to hide in shadows. Swimming
around the sides of the ship you find forms of
life protruding from every crack, every fallen
sheet of steel or crushed beam. Swimming
directly over the wreck it’s easy to pick out the
biggest fish, a large grouper and a huge puffer
fish that have claimed the Purini as home. A
stingray landed on a flat spot of the hull. The
amazing wreck’s obvious history seems
shadowed by the flurry of life protruding from its
hull. If ships actually do have souls, this ship is
resting peacefully forever on the seafloor just off
the coast of Mayreau.
continued down the street as far as I could see.
As I continued down the street along the garden,
my next stop was the Rasta market. This market
had every kind of fruit imaginable. For 25 cents
EC, I bought a banana that had to have been the
best I have ever had. When our bananas at home
are yellow they are considered just right to eat,
but for Bequia, the greener the better.
Continuing on, we headed up towards the port.
On our way, we passed the bookstore, which
sold scrimshaw, and the Sergeant Brothers
workshop, a model boat building warehouse. By
the time we left
Bequia, some of
us had bought
boats that had
detail and the
rest of us had
pocketknives to
Passing houses, locals playing cards outside bars
and wandering goats , we ended up at the port.
Here, looking off the side to the edge of the
island, you could see the whole harbor of Bequia
and even Ocean Star and Near Enough. After a
long and exciting day, we headed back to the
dock. Eating our homemade ice cream and
cookies from the Gingerbread, a nearby coffee
shop, we had no idea that Willy, a local
merchant, would be at Ocean Star displaying a
Six hours after leaving the island of Mayreau, we
entered into the harbor of Bequia. Bequia is an
old whaling island and is one of the few places
today that whaling is still practiced. Once every
year the fishermen are allowed to go out to sea
and catch up to four whales. Although they have
caught humpback whales in the past, they
usually arrive back home with pilot whales,
which are small. Nevertheless, whatever the size
is, it is still pretty neat that they catch whales the
old traditional way. What makes Bequia unique
are its beautiful gardens along the main street,
the Rasta fruit market, scrimshaw, model boat
builders, and Willy. Each separately adds
lot of his art work made from brown coral and
whale teeth.
unexhausted. As we sat on the whale-vertebrae
barstools and rested our elbows upon the whalerib bar, we sadly noticed the absence of music.
No Bob Marley, no steel drums, no nothing.
This spurned us to explore Port Elizabeth,
Bequia, for further places of entertainment. As
Nips and Julio “Indian-wrestled”, some enjoyed
the flavor of local nightlife, and some frolicked
up and down steep hills, we all made merry in
the bumpin’ streets of Bequia. We eventually
made our way back to The Whale Boner and met
James Prince, a British skipper who used to work
for ActionQuest. As it was past bedtime by then,
we returned to our sailing vessels and fell asleep
without incurring any injuries to the happily
exhausted crew.
Willy is a local whom the staff of Sea~mester
have known for a few years. So after hearing so
many great stories it was really exciting to
finally meet the man who sailed around in his
little tub with one sail that was a sheet. In
addition, if he was not sailing he was rowing
around. The art that Willy made from brown
coral was really cool. With the coral, Willy
carves out fish pendants, whales and coral
bracelets. Afterwards he sands them and applies
Epoxy. I have to say that all of the shipmates
and a few of the staff bought at least a pendant
and a coral bracelet. Spending a few days in
Bequia was a great experience.
Bequia brought us something new. Whether we
went to the Internet cafe or stocked up on
crunchy bam-bams, at the end of the day, we just
relaxed and took the time to soak up the beautiful
island of Bequia that surrounded us.
Island Animals
Like other Sea~mester shipmates, I miss my dog
quite a bit. But I have encountered many cute
animals during this trip. When we were in the
Tobago Cays, I was on the beach of one of the
islands, having just tried windsurfing, when a kid
(baby goat) traversed down a rock face and
joined me
black goat
cute and
was very
friendly. It
looking at
me from
whether or
not I was a
threat. I approached it slowly and made sure not
to make any sudden movements. It then decided,
I assume, that I was friendly, and it came very
close to me. For the next 20 or 30 minutes, the
goat and I sat next to each other on the beach
enjoying the beauty of the Tobago Cays.
Spending time with this little black goat is one of
the things I remember most vividly from the last
35 or so days.
Night Out at the Whale Boner
Our second night out was at The Whale Boner,
in Bequia. Jokes concerning its tremendous
name, although numerous, are as yet
On almost all of the islands we’ve visited, there
have been many dogs running freely on the
streets. Most of these dogs look fairly dirty and
sometimes mangy, but if you can get past this
ragtag exterior, you’ll realize that these dogs are
often friendly. Whenever I have come across one
of these dogs, I have always made the effort to
interact with it. Most will rush over to me and let
me pet them. Others seem very wary of my
presence and run away when I approach them. A
couple of dogs in Bequia would sit down with
me and let me pet them for a long time. We spent
many days on shore in Bequia, and each time I
saw these dogs, they would come to me and act
affectionately. Nice dogs like this make it easier
for me to cope with being away from my dog for
this long.
After we had spent most of the day exploring the
natural wonders of the island, we then skipped
around Soufriere hunting for the most delicious
spoils and the intricately carved calabash. Most
of us managed to collect gifts or souvenirs and
while we did not spend a huge amount of time in
this small town we were impressed with what it
had to offer.
Weyl Child
Anchor Watch
Many facets of life aboard Ocean Star and Near
Enough are
foreign to
those of us
living, but
become the
more they
tasks, there are a select few that make any crew
member feel like she is part of Lord Nelson’s
navy: climbing the crow’s nest to ensure that we
steer clear of coral heads, standing watch in the
middle of the night during passage, and anchor
Anchor watch is a unique opportunity to embrace
the beauty and serenity of a Caribbean night
while watching over our beloved Ocean Star. It
is something that we only employ in the tightest
of anchorages or when a storm is rolling
overhead dumping buckets of rain and 50 knot
winds on our lonely schooner. The goal of
anchor watch is to ensure that Ocean Star holds
true to her anchor, stays free of significant
swinging, and most importantly to watch out for
other boats dragging their anchors and heading
straight for us. Anchor watch consists of two
man shifts for an hour each from 10 P.M. until 6
A.M. It is one of the only opportunities for the
crew to have full responsibility over Ocean Star,
but Dan and Simon are always available for
needed help. Between checking the bearings to
ensure that Ocean Star is staying put, checking
the GPS, depth and wind gauges, and visually
Natural Wonders of a Quaint
As the Petit Piton came into view, all shipmates
came on deck to get a look at the climbing
challenge ahead of us. The magnificence of the
island blinded the crew after an eventful ten-hour
night passage. Although we anchored around the
bay from Soufriere, we could smell the lure of
land ahead. This small city provided a haven for
anxious crew hoping for crunchy bam-bams and
an air-conditioned internet café. While Soufriere
easily provided these luxuries, it also provided a
taste of lurid island life. The entire city was fully
awake and buzzing at 8AM. Vendors and Rasta
men were fully prepared to hustle the ladies and
push their wares. While much of the town’s life
in Soufriere was appealing, what seemed to be
the most exciting were the attractions a little
further off the beaten path. The smell of sulfur
rose from the bubbling volcano pits and sweet
flower scents emanated from the botanical
gardens, both of which our crew toured fervidly.
The Ups and Downs of the
Crow’s Nest
inspecting the anchor chain, the hour watch
transpires with ease. However, there is always
time for good conversation and it is one of the
best times to get to know a fellow shipmate that
much better.
Being in a highly elevated location is very
unnatural for humans. Unlike some of our treedwelling relatives, we have developed bipedal
locomotion. We lack tails and dexterous feet for
truly effective climbing and balancing. To fall
from a high height would be very damaging to
our bodies, perhaps fatal. Ever since I was a
young lad, I have had a passion for climbing
trees. I
found on
off walls
things of
nature. I
do have
a bit of a
make me uneasy…very uneasy. I do these
things because they are fun. It is important to
overcome one’s fears, especially in the name of
having a good time.
One could say that I have been avoiding the
crow’s nest since day one, however it was often
in my thoughts. Climbing up the ratlines seemed
easy, but actually stepping up to the crow’s nest
looked frightening and difficult to execute. Very
often, it is imperative for sailors to go aloft to fix
any number of problems. I decided to stop
avoiding the crow’s nest for I desired the
confidence to go aloft if necessary. There was
nothing to do at the top of the mast so Simon
told me to check for chafing. I strapped on a
harness, grabbed a book and began my ascent.
Things went well. I was looking down on the
boat in no time. I picked a good location, as
climbing the mast of Ocean Star seemed
insignificant next to the mighty cliffs of the
Pitons. I read and relaxed, and got a strange
perspective of daily life on Ocean Star. I am not
too large a fellow, and the general rule seems to
be that the lightest guy goes up the mast. I
would be glad to be that guy.
Jojobu Volcano
(The story you are about to read is true, but the
name of the volcano has been made up to protect
the innocent)
Today we went to see a natural wonder on the
island of Saint Lucia. Only a few miles away
from the sleepy town of Soufriere lies a
potentially active volcano. It is the only volcano
in the Caribbean that you can drive into. Our tour
guide was a Saint Lucian named Simon who has
lived around the volcano all his life. He was very
knowledgeable about the history and geological
details of the Jojobu. The air around the volcano
has the distinct rotten egg smell of sulfur
dioxide. It is a place where super heated steam
spews forth from deep below the earth’s crust.
Pools of black water saturated with iron sulfide
boil at flesh searing temperatures of up to 400
degrees Fahrenheit. We had to stay about 50
yards away from the actual area of the volcano,
as a man was once swallowed waist deep into a
pit of superheated quicksand that instantly
cooked his legs. Every month volcanologists
come to check the volcano for any change that
might signal an oncoming eruption. The last time
this happened, 70,000 years ago, it formed the
northern part of Saint Lucia. Many islands in the
Caribbean were formed through volcanic activity
as they lie on the edge of a tectonic plate. It was
a memorable experience we will always carry
with us.
Reef Check
locked individual has cultivated an indescribable
affection for Boomer. During their first
interaction, Pascal realized the similarity
between Boomer’s name and his own nickname
“Boom.” This striking realization led him to
believe that they were brothers from a past life.
Through the years Pascal has been an
entertaining part of Sea~mester’s visits to
Soufriere. “Boom” makes his living by gathering
fruit and carving calabash (an inedible island
fruit) for the island’s visitors. This last visit, he
was not patient enough to wait for the dinghy to
pick him up from shore. In his excitement to see
Boomer, he balanced his bag of fruit on his head,
and attempted to swim out to the boat without
getting his bag wet. Though he did not get the
bag wet, he almost drowned in the process.
Luckily, the dinghy was already on its way to get
him, so no harm was done. Once aboard, he
nearly tackled Boomer with hugs and praise. He
proceeded to tell us stories of his life and of his
one good strong tooth. His entertaining visit
much fresh
fruit, some
over all of
us as he
portioned it
everyone to
using only
his elbow
squeezed fresh limes to make us delicious
limeade. Pascal, though slightly eccentric, is
obviously kind-hearted and was a warm
welcome to the crew of Ocean Star and Near
Enough as we entered St. Lucia.
Beaker and C-Tal could hardly contain their
excitement about teaching us a major aspect of
their careers: scientific diving. During our stay
in St. Lucia our assignment was to team up with
the SMMA (Soufriere Marine Management
Association) and survey the reefs around
Soufriere. Our task was to survey the overall
state of the reefs, certain fish populations,
invertebrates, and type of substrate. The data
gathered is going to be sent to Reef Check, a reef
survey program run out of UCLA. For most if
not all of the shipmates this was the first dive
with a real purpose. Sure, we have all been
diving for certifications or just for pure pleasure,
which in a way do serve a purpose; but this dive
was different, this dive was for science. Armed
with our wristband PVC slates that had an eerie
similarity to a hand cannon found on a
transformer, and our 2.5-meter PVC pipe to
estimate out survey area, which also served as an
underwater joust, we set out on our first
scientific dive to count fish along our designated
transect lines.
Battling mediocre visibility
turned horrible visibility after the excessive rain
and mudslides, we did our best to survey the
reef. After surfacing from the dive we all had a
different feeling about us on the boat ride home.
This dive was different than usual this dive. This
dive was for science.
Auto (Mike)
Through stories told to us by Boomer during the
first half of the trip, we learned a great deal about
the colorful Rastafarian named Pascal. The
picture painted for us was of a scantily clad,
eccentric, fruit bearing, seasoned Rasta. Cries of
“Boomaaahhh” could be heard echoing from the
jungle for miles around. Our mooring at a
different location in Soufriere did not hinder
Pascal’s “Boomer radar.” This loony, dread-
To Piton or not to Piton?
The Piton. Oh the wonderful Piton. Prior of our
arrival at St. Lucia we were briefed on the
beautiful wonder that is the Piton. We were told
of the small platform at the peak that provides an
aerial of the island and its neighbors. We we’re
Each of our recent anchorages has had its own
fun, rainy weather pattern. Starting in the Tobago
Cays, a few large squalls came and went,
soaking us through as we secured lines, set
anchors, and rushed to grab clothing off lines.
Our voyage to Bequia was another slippery ride.
Near Enough circled around for a time waiting
for the rain to subside as our visibility was
limited to two boat lengths in any direction. We
set out buckets and collected quite a bit of fresh
water for our tanks. Once in port, dinghy rides
became wild rapid adventures from boat to boat
as the rain poured down and the wind picked up.
One recent dive in St. Lucia took a chilly turn as
we surfaced, rain pouring down. The water felt
like a bath compared to the cold rain. Even in St.
Lucia we expected a daily rain shower in the
shadow of the Pitons. While most of us were
puzzled by the blue skies, warm sun and light
rain simultaneously, we eventually accepted it as
told of Superman’s flower nursery for Lois Lane.
Of all that we were told, nothing could prepare
us for the monument that stood on the southwest
coast of St. Lucia. It commands the attention of
all those who pass.
Okay, I’ll stop hedging and make my point: we
unfortunately did not get to conquer the mystical
Petit Piton. The ten days of sporadic rain created
some lethal mudslides and knowledgeable locals
advised against attempting to climb. There was
some sadness amongst the crew when we heard
Mother Nature won the battle and that the Piton
would be too dangerous. So, where’s the story?
I’m not sure, but I didn’t want to abandon a
fixture that overlooked the majority of our
adventures on St. Lucia. It stood next to us
through our very wet meals, Reef Check dives,
explorations of the botanical gardens, and creepy
stories of ghosts and zombies. We frequently
spoke of mastering it and its general grandeur. In
the end, all of us will remember the Piton with
both pride and a bit of sadness. It leaves us with
an unfinished task to which we must all return.
a fun characteristic of our mooring.
I now wake with thoughts of “Give us this day
our daily downpour.” I don a rain jacket for
breakfast or outings just in case. When I do get
wet, I stay on deck waiting to dry out. Going
below drenched would ruin our dry environment.
When I lose mo st of the water, I rush down to
change into something dry. I bring my wet stuff
up to hang on the lines, and once I’m doing so,
low and behold, here’s another shower. I’m wet
again and the vicious cycle continues.
But life in the rain isn’t all that bad. It made our
passages quite memorable and our dinghy rides
are stories we can tell over and over again. The
days are much cooler, a welcomed relief. The
islands are incredibly lush. We do remember dry
days and know they’ll come our way as the
storms roll out. Our clothing does dry out
eventually, but luckily, the rain has kept this leg
of the trip from being a dry, dull adventure.
General Wetness
If you live on a boat, you know you’re going to
be wet. The Sea~mester crew has accepted this
lifestyle and anticipates a little wetness from
time to time: we’re surrounded by water, we
don’t even flinch at sea spray and we tread
carefully so as not to slip on deck. Most of the
time the sun is shining and our daily wetness
comes from shower time (Telltale Fall ’05, Vol.
I). All that has changed due to a few recent
squalls: Ocean Star and Near Enough have
become wet and wild worlds. Some storms
sprinkle us for a time while others dump buckets,
covering up the cries of “Close the hatches!” The
rain jacket has become the fashion statement of
the voyage. I prefer a bright, screaming yellow to
offset my wet brown hair.
Viven en el Fo’c’sle
Upon an initial ponder down into the depths of
the Fo’c’sle, one may not understand the
commonly associated nickname that most
Fo’c’sle alumni reference her with. However,
after the deceivingly treacherous ladder descent,
it will only be obvious as to why the Fo’c’sle is ,
to us, the “Penthouse” (as she’s known) of
Ocean Star.
including a
steel sink,
Breeze A/C
space, there isn’t much more one could ask for
when looking to fly first class on the “Big Black
Lady” (Ocean Star). No matter what shape
you’re in, sweet mother Fo’c’sle takes in her
residents, nurturing them with much more than
her luxurious accommodations! Depending on
the mood, she has the ability to be masked as an
MTV Crazy Daisy Spring Break Love Shack, but
is more solidified in her identity as the cozy little
cabin in the midst of the bowsprit. Therefore, if
you’re looking for a party hardy vacation in a
“happening resort,” the salon may be the way to
go. But for the more adventurous soul that
doesn’t mind a slight hike to a secluded cozy
destination, the Fo’c’sle is the place. As only the
wise will console, there’s no better way than the
way of the Fo’c’sle.
Eternal Sincerity,
As we came about and headed toward these
endangered mariners, Simon, our captain,
radioed Near Enough to inform them of the
situation. We then commenced dropping sail and
approached the vessel, bringing Luke up from
below to aid us in communication as we spoke
either very little or no French at all. We tossed
the boat a line and began to tow it back toward
our destination as soon as the crew aboard had it
secured. As we motored back we congratulated
ourselves on having rescued all the men, women
and children from the certain doom of drifting
out to sea. Upon reaching the harbor, we
launched Irving, our rescue dinghy, to tow the
broken down vessel to shore. As we watched
Irving pull away, we pondered whether or not we
were in violation of immigration laws, since we
were not yet cleared into the country. According
to Luke, our resident French speaker, the engine
had given out during a pleasure cruise. The
Frenchmen thanked us and we both went our
separate ways. But these shipmates can now call
themselves heroes.
Rescue on the High Seas
We approached Martinique heading toward
Grande Anse d’Arlet after an ideal sail when we
saw the day flares. A motor vessel bearing a
number of passengers appeared to be in distress.
The Telltale
Wind - Rudder Indicator and Tale Bearer of
The Caribbean Sea~mester
Martinique, Dominica, The Saints, Pigeon Island, Antigua, Green Island
Fall Edition 2005, Volume III
Touching the Clouds
Word from the Editors
Greetings from the staff of the Telltale! We’ve
been enjoying our trip thus far as the end rapidly
approaches. Read on to learn all about the
adventures of day 40 to 60. Enjoy!
Life aboard an 88-foot schooner is frankly not
the kindest on the legs. Despite the occasional
opportunity for an early morning jog, one is
forced to stand by and witness the gradual
atrophy of his or her legs. However, salvation is
found in the occasional hikes that allow us to
stretch out while we properly explore the islands
we encounter. On top of this, the allure of
greenery and supple earth along with the solitude
that a forest offers was enough to get the whole
crew excited about our recent hike on Mont
Pelée in Martinique.
We awoke early and ate a quick breakfast to be
on shore at 0800 in order to take the 30 minute
bus ride to the start of the hike. To get a grasp
on what was at hand, Mont Pelée is the highest
peak on Martinique and in the Eastern
Caribbean, standing at 1397 meters and is an
active volcano. In 1902, she laid the then
capital, Saint Pierre, to waste killing all but three
of the city’s 30,000 inhabitants with a massive
eruption. Thankfully, she has been quiet since
Mike, Julia, Peter, & Mark
and Saint-Pierre has again become a veritable
began with
45 minutes
right off the
SpiritBreaker, as
the opening
and we even
saw several
couples making their way along the path.
However, it is taxing on the mind. Fortunately,
we were still somewhat together at this point and
were able to pull each other through the toughest
sections. After the Spirit-Breaker, everyone
caught a second wind as we caught our first
glance at the caldera (the edge of the crater) that
lay ahead. The visibility was poor because, at
this point, we were in the clouds. Unless the
wind chose to grant you some vision, it was
difficult to see more than 30 feet in any
direction. In the few moments that the clouds
did subside, our breath was taken away by the
incredible green and lush caldera and the view of
the summit. To reach the summit you had to
drop down into the crater, (which was still
swamped with clouds being blown by 30 knot
winds), and then re-ascend to the pinnacle. This
involved a bit of skill, as part of the trail went
through some rocky remnants of the 1902 blast
which made it quite difficult to follow. No
matter what the struggle, and the summit of
Mont Pelée was well worth it and was one of the
most awe-inspiring sights of my life.
The first group made it to the top in just over an
hour and a half with the rest of us joining shortly
thereafter, and we had a quorum and dove into
lunch. Lunch was a challenge with the 50 to 60
knot winds ripping up the windward side of the
mountain, which made it difficult to keep your
hands on a slice of bread let alone make a
sandwich. With a little help from our friends we
were all able to eat and took the rest of the time
at the summit to enjoy the majestic sights. All of
us crammed on the few rocks that comprised the
apex. We were able to enjoy the sight of clouds
rushing into the side of the mountain and
blowing right up into our faces by the howling
winds. It was the only time in my life that I have
seen parts of cloud pass between myself and the
person right next to me. There was something
distinctly serene about the violent obstruction of
view that put us all in a tranquil mood.
We decided to make our way back down the
mountain after we had spent ample time at the
Eric, Matt and I attempted, with
moderate success, to perform some headstands
on a flat rock a bit down from the top that
overlooked the valley below. Unfortunately,
headstands are not very feasible in that kind of
wind. At this point, I was approached by
Boomer with some dessert in the form of a snail
the size of a small child’s fist. I have developed
a reputation for being able to eat anything, but
sucking this little critter out of his shell was
definitely at the top of my list. With the taste of
raw escargot in my mouth and clouds in my ear,
I bounded down the mountain with the others
sharing hilarity and good conversation. At the
bottom we had a bite to eat, some coffee and
some Oranginas to recuperate for the next
Navigating sans Electronics
It all began during an evening MTE class as
Boomer shared a story from his infinite arsenal
of tales. He told us about how he lost GPS on a
delivery and had to dead reckon through the
passage. Predictably, we saw an exciting
challenge and asked to attempt our sail from St.
Lucia to Dominica sans electronics. The staff
happily agreed and so we left class with a new
The next morning, we rose and started the sail
out of Soufriere without turning on our GPS. I
was fortunate enough to be navigator for the sail,
but all who were interested participated in the
Falling Fruit and Water, with a
Native Touch
day’s events. We plotted our course and set out
around the northern point of Soufriere. We shot
bearings on a lighthouse to determine when to
turn and clear the shallows. Once we cleared the
point and got on course, we took a conventional
fix to begin dead reckoning.
Because we had no log, our next challenge was
to determine our speed. Our first attempt
involved timing bread floating through the water
as it was dropped off the bow and traveled to the
stern. The first time we tried this, we checked it
against the GPS (small cheat? Okay, maybe) and
it proved to be perfectly accurate. Every 30
minutes we took our ‘bread speed’ and dead
reckoned our position.
Though the bread speed was dependable, it
didn’t completely satisfy our desire to be like
salties of the past. We wanted to make a chip log
like the one was saw in the Irving Johnson video.
So, with special guidance from Simon, Mark and
Eric ventured down into the engine room to
create our very own chip log. When they reemerged with a wooden triangle and peg an hour
later, we were all eager to test it out. We attached
the string and prepared for our first trial run.
Unfortunately, a first run is all we accomplished
because there was a small oversight: we only
attached line to the removable peg and not the
triangle. It was, a sad moment as it drifted away,
but we quickly rebounded and searched for other
things to throw in the water to check speed.
Nips’ water bottle seemed like a good idea, so
we threw it in with a line well attached. The drag
of the bottle and line gave an inaccurate speed
reading. In the end, our alternative methods
proved to be third-rate compared to the tried and
true ‘bread speed’.
As we sorted out our log methods, Dominica
came into sight and allowed us to use “tropical
eyeball navigation” rather than focusing on the
chart. In the end, the day gave us a real taste of
how much we have to learn on the water. On
passages that followed we expanded our
navigation skills by testing our accuracy with
running fixes, three point fixes and distance off
(circular LOP) calculations taken with a sextant,
based on known altitude of an object on land.
I’m not sure if it started on the Dominica
passage, but I have developed a small obsession
with navigation. I enjoy exploring all the
variables that affect navigation and its vital
importance onboard. I think that passage and the
exercises that followed have been some of my
favorite times during Sea~mester.
On the day of our tour of Dominica, we rose at
0530, ate breakfast, and were on the dock
the taxies
With tired
cameras in
hand, we
piled into
the island
driven by
our elusive
tour guides
and Stowe.
Clean up
day (the day following their Day of
Independence on November 3rd).
Prior to the driving tour, Sea Cat and Stowe
drove us to the Indian River. We boarded small
boats and proceeded to row upstream researching
the salinity and temperature of the small estuary.
At the end of the boat ride, there was a small
open air restaurant/café, with delicious passion
fruit juice and vacant hammocks in which to
relax. On the way back to the taxies, we floated
by the site of the shack built for the filming of
the Pirates of the Caribbean 2. The tour got
underway and there were plenty of opportunities
to snap pictures of the magnificent views.
Dominica is one of the only islands left in the
Caribbean with a native Carib Indian population.
They live up in the hills occupying governmentissued land, and, until only a few years ago the
inhabitants would run and hide from taxies
driving through the reservation.
When stopping at one of Sea Cat’s friends’
house, we witnessed the making of fresh
chocolate. A little old Carib man sat over a large
wooden mortar and pestle, crushing up the cocoa
beans into a chocolate paste. We just scooped up
some paste and added a sprinkle of cane sugar.
It is rare to get this fresh chocolate taste, it is
pure, made without the use of technology, only
with the fruits of the earth and the power of the
human hand.
At the same house we also sipped on freshly
crushed sugar cane combined with ripe lime
juice. I can say with certainty that none of us
have ever had such pure lime -ade. Along with
these goodies, coconut juice was practically
poured down our throats. Of course none of us
rejected this sweet milky water, and most drank
more than their fill. We then headed to Emerald
Pool, part of the Dominica National Park. The
pool was only about neck deep, but the water
was cold
gallons of
down onto
the rocks
many of us
chose to
the fall, and with no exaggeration, the force was
great enough to knock you down if you were
even slightly off balanced or if you weren’t using
your hands to balance yourself. It was the
fiercest massage one can get. On our way back
home to Ocean Star and Near Enough, we saw
the Dominican inhabitants finishing up their
government organized cleaning day and
beginning the celebratory party that follows a
hard day of cleaning. When bedding down for
the night after a long day, we could all look back
and marvel at the different culture we had
experienced, the fruit we had eaten, the views we
had seen. We knew that we are among a small
percentage of people who have seen the
remainder of a native population in the
Caribbean that had been almost completely
wiped out by European influence.
preservation of the reef anyone wishing to dive
in Dominican waters has to be accompanied by a
locally licensed dive company. We set off for our
dive at 0800 in the morning. The short trip to the
first dive sight was quite fun with the dive boat’s
large decks great for dancing to the loud reggae
music, and the entertainment when one of the
crew lost his wetsuit in the water, and we had to
turn around to retrieve it. On our first dive we
kept an eye out for many different vertebrates
and invertebrates that we would have to identify
later in our dive logs. Our dive masters were
always keeping us on our toes by showing us
assorted sea creatures (such as basket stars and
cleaner shrimps), and even finding a nurse shark.
We were all smiling from the amazing dive that
we had just done, but the biggest smi le was on
the ground near our as cent line where one of the
instructors had made a smiley face out of rocks.
Our second dive was just as amazing, with
spotted moray eels, spiny lobsters, and
champagne bubbles. No not the kind you toast
gasses being
released. The
gasses weren’t
harmful, but
the water was
very hot near
the opening. It
was an all
between the two incredible dives and getting one
step closer to earning our advanced certification.
Dive Dominica
Now that everyone on this trip is an Open Water
Diver, we are in training for our Advanced Open
Water certifications. During this training we
have to do a naturalist dive, and in order to do
this we set out off the coast of Dominica with a
local dive company and group of instructors.
Due to local laws governing the safety and
boiling lake certainly topped the list for myself,
and surely many others. We met our local guide
Pancho and taxied a half an hour to the trail
head, our early rise put us in the midst of the
rainforest around 8:00 a.m. Just like the name of
the forest suggests, it was raining! With small
streams (and in places small lakes) flowing down
the trail, keeping one’s feet dry entailed hiking
the entire time looking at the ground for strategic
step placement. However, the amazingly endless
foliage was much too intriguing for my eyes,
forcing me to suffice to wet shoes and feet early
into the hike. Nevertheless, my spirit remained
untainted. Eventually, we summited a small
peak above the forest and caught a quick glimpse
of the steam arising from the boiling lake. With
inspiration to truck on, we ventured down into
the valley of desolation filled with volcanic
vents. Sulfur steam and bubbling spring water
shot out of the earth similar to water fountains
found in trendy town squares. As we hiked
further down the valley confusing the various
streams of overheated water cooled and
collaborated into a beautiful river with a series of
small waterfalls and natural hot tubs heated to
At Sea~mester
introduced to
tropical fruits
and spices that
are common in
usually just in
drive down the
road in the
Caribbean one
sees the well
bananas, mangos, coconuts , and even oranges
and grapefruits. But if one looks more closely at
the other surrounding trees you will find
cinnamon, coffee, nutmeg, bay leaves, and best
of all the cocoroos. Cocoroos (A.K.A. M&M’s
of the jungle) is the fruit that produces chocolate.
After such a discovery, Mark and I decided we
would like to try to make chocolate from the
beginning to the end. We spoke to some locals
and learned the process of chocolate making the
old fashioned way. It goes like this:
1. Suck the fruit off the beans and save
2. Dry the beans in the sun
3. Roast the beans on a grill until the
shells are blackened (careful not to burn
4. Crush the roasted beans in a mortar and
5. Add sugar and milk
Mark and I changed the process a little to adapt it
to life on a boat. First we fired up the charcoal
BBQ grill to roast the beans, next, we filled a
saucepan with clean sand and placed the beans in
the sand to slowly roast them to prevent burning.
Our next step was to follow steps four and five.
Unfortunately, the chocolate didn’t turn out as
planned and tasted slightly burnt. The taste
didn’t really matter to us, it was still a blast
trying to make it and we are definitely planning
to keep trying until we get it right.
Holiday Inn perfection. Personally speaking,
there isn’t any better place to obtain a little wellneeded relaxation than in a natural hot tub of
pure spring water in the middle of the jungle. As
I enjoyed my time and reflected upon the hike, I
found myself questioning the necessity of our
guide; despite the fact that the trail was wet and
slippery, it wasn’t really hidden or hard to
follow. However, a few moments later, Pancho
presented a codfish-cucumber stew, several fresh
loaves of bread, and a couple of old soda liters
filled with homemade grapefruit juice from his
pack. Oh yeah baby!! Cod fish and fresh juice,
in the jungle, in the tub, with waterfalls;
Already being completely
satisfied, we continued on to the boiling lake,
Boiling Lake Expedition
Dominica, being the favored island thus far for
most shipmates, provided several of the
infamous Sea~mester highlights. Our hike to the
one of only two
existing in the
entire world. To
lake boil at over
(well in one
Thus, hiking to
undoubtedly one of the best day adventures most
of us have ever been on.
are very intelligent social animals that
communicate though a series of clicking sounds.
They are fairly easy to recognize due to their
blow hole being slightly off center. They also
have very advanced echo location used for
finding prey. Sperm whales are fascinating and
very unique from other whales.
Everyone was smiling and staring in awe for the
fifteen minutes that the whale hung out. Simon
has a good knowledge of sperm whales and dove
into discovery channel narrative mode, which
was quite interesting and enjoyed by all. We
took a detour from our track to get a good look at
the majestic animal, while under sail! Everyone
was laughing in amazement as we passed around
the binoculars to get a better look. As I adjusted
my eyes to the binoculars the whale began to
make its descent. It took a shallow dive first and
then fluked up to return to the depths. I will
forever remember seeing that whale off the coast
of Dominica.
Whale Tale
Deciding whether or not to take a nap during
daytime passage is no easy decision. It
demonstrates a lack of interest towards sailing
and an all around careless attitude. Aside from
this , when you actually lay down, the feelings of
guilt alone can prevent you from catching some
solids z’s. On the passage from Dominica to the
Saints, with much hesitation, I put these things
aside and fell soundly asleep in my bunk.
I awoke fairly disoriented and amidst a flurry of
“Whales off the starboard bow!”
shouted Dan from the top of the companion way.
I was in no rush. Instantly I convinced myself
that I was being toyed with and these so called
whales were just a ploy to get me on deck.
Nevertheless, I threw on my sunglasses,
stretched appropriately and jumped on deck. It
took me a minute to see what all the fuss was
Dawn Dive
At about 0445 in the morning we all woke up to
get ready for our morning dive and to experience
the sunrise from under the water. At 0500 all 20
of us piled on Near Enough and were on our way
to Pigeon Island. After a short motor ride over
to the island we all suited up and jumped into the
dark water. One by one we descended down
with our buddies with flashlights to lead the way
until sunrise. We had dived Pigeon Island the
day before for our pleasure and deep dives, so
we were interested in seeing all the different sea
creatures that come out at dawn. We were also
very excited to see the statue of Jacques
Cousteau again and say our goodbyes since we
were leaving Guadeloupe that night and sailing
off to Antigua.
I buddied up with Chantale and Beaker so it was
fun to watch them getting up close to coral and
Sperm whales are the largest toothed whale in
the world. They are beautiful, large, awkward
looking creatures, capable of diving to thousands
of meters. At such depths they take part in
battling giant squid to the death. Sperm whales
different fish to take pictures. Diving with the
both of them I really got a chance to take a closer
look at everything around me and enjoy the dive.
I was also pleased to dive with them and be able
to dive for an hour since they planned a
shallower profile, which was very cool, while
everyone else dove for 50 minutes. Even those
extra 10 minutes is a lot while you are
underwater. Towards the end of our dive we ran
swam to Jacques Cousteau before ascending to
the boat. Seeing a life-sized statue of a man that
everyone knows of, giving the “ok” sign
underwater was very entertaining and
unforgettable. It is not everyday you see a statue
of Jacques underwater. The deep dive and dawn
dive have been my favorite dives so far on our
Sea~mester voyage. Maybe one day I will return
back to Pigeon Island and hopefully Jacques will
still be there hanging out on the ocean floor
waiting for divers to swim past.
Katie (KT)
advice in the literal sense because books don’t
wear wetsuits. It is also good in the metaphorical
sense in that a wetsuit doesn’t say everything
about the man or woman wearing it.
I began to think that if I dove without a wetsuit, I
could simply return it when I got back. That was
until I realized that I probably would not be able
to return it when I came home. I decided maybe I
ought to wear it at least once to make the
investment worthwhile. I wore the wetsuit for the
night dive; mostly because it was cold coming
out of the water. Then I wore it for the deep dive,
and then the dawn dive. I realized that I kind of
enjoyed wearing the wetsuit. It doesn’t seem to
keep me any warmer but I thin k it makes me
look sexier to the ladies. So now I sometimes
wear the wetsuit.
Boot’n’Rally (n)
1) The Process of booting, or throwing up, and
then recovering
2) The Act of one or more shipmates
continuously booting in succession, hence the
term booting rally
Wearing a Wetsuit
The packing
list told me to
need one in 85
water, but the
lady at the
local dive shop
said it was
cold. So I was
really against the wetsuit from the beginning. I
began the voyage diving sans wetsuit. The water
was quite warm and I felt no need for it.
A number of my fellow shipmates seem to have
taken quite a liking to the wetsuit. I have never
seen Mark without his on. Auto likes to wear his
occasionally, but then only with his yellow
bathing suit coming from underneath the legs of
the wetsuit. It’s something akin to the boxers and
Umbros craze of the early 1990’s. Still others,
like Kevin, enjoy wearing their board shorts over
the wetsuit. Simon calls this “wakeboarder
style.” I’m not particularly sure what that means.
One thing I have learned from my fellow
shipmates is that you should never judge a
“book” by its wetsuit. This is a good piece of
This article isn’t about booting. It is about the
passage to Antigua in which an inordinate
amount of booting occurred. Captain Boomer
and First Mate Chantale decided it was time to
step it up a notch and to let us do the entire
passage ourselves. That meant at midnight we
would haul back the anchor, motor out of
Deshaies, set the sails, and successfully steer
Near Enough to English Harbor, Antigua,
without the help of any staff members. All the
while Captain Boomer and First Mate Chantale
would be peacefully sleeping through the night.
Unfortunately, no one got much sleep due to the
extremely rough seas, nightmares, and starting
the engine in reverse at about 4000 rpms. The
preferred method of sleep was the th ree man
spoon, spearheaded by Captain Boomer in the
salon. The lack of sleep and sea state could lead
to only one thing… A good old fashioned
boot’n rally! I led the charge with a solid boot
from mid cockpit and then proceeded to lean
over the side while Eric held onto my right ankle
as precautionary measure. More booting was
sure to follow. As I lay peacefully nestled in the
salon with the comfort of Boomer and Auto, I
tried to recover. Meanwhile the boot’n rally was
quickly formulating and escalating. Eric and
Theo had caught the urge to boot through a
phenomenon known as Problem Child
Syndrome. This is when one witnesses booting
and begins to boot uncontrollably. This natural
phenomenon was documented one other time on
the Grenada passage. It is a vicious endless
cycle only curable through land or anchorage.
After Eric and Theo’s watch ended, it was my
turn to get on deck and boot. After many a boot,
we were finally in sight of land and freedom
from the high seas. Two boots and lots of salty
spray later we pulled up into English Harbor to
dock, clean up, and catch up on some much
needed shuteye.
heavy weather
and high seas,
but fortunately
only one person
got seasick on
some of the
worst weather
out of any of our
prior passages.
the rest of the
sails under some heavy weather and motored into
the beautiful English Harbour of Antigua. We
were all awe struck looking at the beautiful
yachts as we entered the harbor. Antigua is very
‘posh’ and is the nicest place we had visited.
After a Mediterranean style mooring, we
discussed our next few days and the “evils of
land”, as Boomer would say. Everyone was
ready to take a break from the seas and excited to
go explore the harbor.
Passage to Antigua
After an exciting night sail from Guadeloupe, we
arrived in Antigua in the late morning. This
Antigua (English Harbour and
Nelson’s Dockyard)
After an excellent dinner on Ocean Star prepared
by Sarah, we slept in order to prepare for our
passage from Deshaies to Antigua. We all slept
well because we had air conditioning on Ocean
Star for one of the first times on this trip. At
midnight, we awoke to discuss our passage and
then raised anchor and set sail. It started out with
a bright moon and clear skies, but the weather
quickly took a turn for the worse. Watch one was
on from midnight to three, watch two from three
to six, and watch three from six to nine. As soon
as the weather hit, my watch faced the challenge
of reefing the foresail without direct staff
assistance. With all of the shouting and
commotion of trying to communicate in the
weather, we were thankful when Mark and
Kevin scrambled up the companionway to come
help. We took a few big waves over the bow,
which made the task a bit more difficult. We
even took a wave over the bow that was big
enough to float Exy, our dinghy, up off the deck
amidships and wash the chocks partially out
from underneath her. Luckily she was securely
strapped down. All of the watches had some
island, once known by Carib Indians as Wadadli,
has a rich history of sailing and continues to be
the center of yachting in the Caribbean. The first
Europeans arrived here in 1690 and built the first
naval yard in English Harbour in 1725. The
purpose of a naval base was to defend commerce
with London, and ensure that goods were traded
solely within the British Empire. In 1784, 26year old captain Horatio Nelson came to Antigua
and made himself infamous by enforcing the
King’s trading laws. He was confined to his
house during the day so as to stay safe from
angry traders who had been happily trading with
the new American colonies. The dockyard in
English Harbour grew in size and importance
throughout the Napoleonic Wars until the battle
of Waterloo in 1805, after which it declined in
value and was eventually shut down in 1889. It
was rebuilt and commercialized in the 1960’s,
and has since continually grown and become
more prestigious. Ocean Star and Near Enough
are presently stern to the dock in Nelson’s
Dockyard, named after Admiral Lord Nelson.
Though he had been to Antigua only twice and
referred to it as “an infernal hole,” the dockyard
is named after him. The marina annually hosts
many well-known regattas, and during these
events the harbor is stacked with expensive and
ridiculously well-polished classic boats. The
Sea~mester crew quickly adjusted to the evils of
shore and being able to step ashore at will, walk
around the old dockyard buildings or take a bus
into St. John’s. Our conveyance to shore was via
a thick nylon dock line or a dinghy. Choosing
the dock line tightrope, one of the shipmates
went swimming in the water of Nelson’s
Dockyard on two separate and humorous
occasions. Most of us will be sad to leave
Antigua, which has proven to be an interesting,
exciting, and unique island.
great lengths to keep their identities secret. In
fact the crew has to sign contracts vowing not to
disclose the name of their employer - the
consequences for breaking this contract are such
that close friends may not know whom the other
works for.
The communities of staff employed by the
“owner” are expected to be appropriately
beautiful accessories to their vessels. You will
rarely see unattractive hands aboard these huge
sailing boats and mega-yachts. Even the lower
level workers need to be appropriately good
looking. So if you are not a stereotypical beauty
it’s probably best to stay 50 or so yards away
from boats whose sexual prowess outstrips your
own unless you want a ripped blonde guy named
Brent to come out with a VHF to ask you to
Big Boats
Two-Thirds through the Trip: A
Simon, Boomer, and Dan took us on a walking
tour of English and Falmouth Harbours (famous
home to the vessels participating in the notorious
Antigua race week) to introduce us to the strange
world of rich captains, elusive owners,
exceptional chefs and physically attractive knob
polishers. Our first stop was a pair of what
seemed to be privately owned yachts called
Private Lives and the illustrious Rebecca.
Rebecca was the first ship we spotted when we
entered English Harbour. You could see her
custom-made body, stainless steel gadgets and
towering carbon fiber masts reflecting in the
glassy eyes of the dumbfounded male shipmates.
In the immortal words of Luke, “she’s so hot.”
Boomer gave us a minor introduction to the
bizarre social rules that govern the life of boats
like Rebecca. Generally the owners of these 20
million dollar beauties visit for a few weeks out
of the year and often opt to sleep in a hotel rather
than in the velvet cabins. The owners also go to
It is just past the half-way mark for the crew
aboard Ocean Star and Near Enough. Actually,
it’s more like three-quarters of the way through
and everyone is beginning to realize that sooner
or later this amazing experience will end. In
more ways than one, this trip has changed all of
us and, as
a crew, we
and more
on board
our ships
than ever
has come
long past the days of being homesick. Often, in
the past few days, the crew has mingled to talk
about how it will be to go home and the things
we have learned and how we have grown.
Listening to each of my crew mates express how
they have learned things here that no typical
school could ever teach you is incredible to say
the least. The sense of adventure and the need for
change has been permanently instilled in all of
us. The idea of living the average every day life
is out of the question for most crew members
and we are all more ready than ever before to
live life to its fullest.
I guess that is what makes it slightly difficult to
think of leaving Sea~mester. Here we are
guaranteed adventure every day. We get to dive
over deep reefs, swim on exotic beaches, hike
over extreme terrain and become more and more
of a salty seaworthy pirate with every day that
passes aboard our boats . Even though it is sad to
think of the end of this adventure, the lives of the
crew aboard will never be the same as when they
first laid eyes on the boats that have become our
homes. They will forever be a part of us when
we set off back to the “real world” in pursuit of
many more adventures.
Once we were sufficiently full on burgers and
dogs, we sat around our campfire and had a two
boat squeeze in the dimming light, followed by
some moonlit fraternizing on the beach before
retiring to our respective boats.
The next day started off with two classes in the
morning, after which we were left to our own
devices. The day’s activities included Elkhorn
Coral searching with Chantale and Beaker,
snorkeling with Boomer, unsuccessful shark
and a few tasks
onboard to help
Simon and Dan
beautification of
Ocean Star. The
evening ended
unanimous mansarong night for
the guys of
Ocean Star, which I regrettably didn’t get a
chance to witness, but I heard excellent reports
of the occasion.
Today we started our optional Rescue Diver
Training, in which we practiced skills such as
towing, buddy breathing, and rescuing vagrant
nalgenes and flip-flops. We will primarily spend
the remainder of our stay here savoring the water
and relaxation time, though much to Boomer and
the other windsurfers’ dismay, the wind gods are
punishing us with an unprecedented dead calm.
At any rate, we can dive, swim, snorkel, and
tinker onboard to our hearts’ desire, with a little
homework here and there to keep us honest.
Green Island
After an eight nautical mile morning sail from
Antigua, the Ocean Star and Near Enough crews
maneuvered through reef and islands into the
idyllic waters off Green Island. We had filled up
on enough coffee, bam-bams, and general shore
exposure in English Harbour to be salivating at
the prospect of four days at anchor with as much
time in the refreshing Caribbean Sea as our
pruned fingers could handle. In the afternoon, we
geared up and completed our final advanced
dive, each buddy pair separately hoping that our
compass skills would navigate us successfully
through the murky
wouldn’t be the
two to lose our
way and surface
forty meters from
the boat.
Fortunately, we all
made it back and
kicked off the
evening with a
beach barbeque,
a.k.a. “flesh fest,”
on the island.
Before our passage to Antigua, I was awarded
with a very advanced, very specialized
certification: I am a Laz-Master. I am the first
shipmate to have earned this certification, but
many more will follow in my footsteps. “Laz” is
an abbreviation of the Portuguese word
“lazarette.” The lazarette is a storage space under
the cockpit in the stern of the hull. To gain
access to the lazarette, one must remove a metal
cover and climb down a small ladder into a very
hot little dungeon. The laz is only a dungeon
based on its size and physical nature, but not the
negative connotations that come with the word
dungeon. It is really a tranquil place down there.
It’s small enough that only 2 or 3 people will fit
comfortably down there at a time. Going into the
laz is thus a great way to get away from the busy
on-deck life of Ocean Star. Some would
complain that the laz is too hot. I think that
the water, ‘dressing’ with a t-shirt and shorts). It
burns a little inside as you get on the first dinghy
to maximize your time. Soon on shore we realize
how different it is from our usual surroundings.
Quickly, we realize the mass of people, flushing
toilets, and footing that doesn’t sway from side
to side. Aboard Ocean Star and Near Enough,
interdependence, fairness, and enjoyment. This
world is comfortable and has become our lives.
Shore is an opposing, different world. Soon we
realize we wish to be back aboard our world.
Yes, shore is a good thing too. I’ve read up on
historical points on some islands and have hiked
to explore, exercising my body and mind with
something different. It’s nice and important to
phone my family. In the French islands calls
were so cheap I even called a few friends to wish
them enjoyable birthdays. I write my mass emails aboard and send them out every few
islands. This communication is nice, but
personally, I came here to disconnect with my
life back home. Sea~mester is the life I’m living,
and Ocean Star and Near Enough are my homes.
Additionally, shore isn’t necessarily a hindrance
to a smooth life aboard these ships. On shore, I
sweating alone in the laz is catharsis, not
I was awarded the title of Laz-Master because of
a few hours I spent during boat appreciation
straightening up the laz and many dive bag
removal missions.
It also contains many
important things, including some of our most
important lines used for dockings and med-style
moorings. The laz is also the home of our
science equipment, dive bags, and windsurf gear.
It is a very important place and must be kept neat
and tidy.
Shore Fever
Shore is a strange concept to this sea-traveling
group. While we anchor in the rolling waves, in
the short distance shore just sits there. In these
boats we’ve created our little world, but shore is
its own world, controlled by many more than
twenty-six and much more than waves. In our
dinghies we aim for land and arrive at the ports
for periods of time. The allure of coffee, ice
cream and other sweets draws some to venture
aground. On solid earth we find communication
with the outside world. What hits us is the
powerful effect shore potentially has on
Sea~mester shipmates, diagnosed as ‘shore
Shore fever is the effect time ashore may have on
some of us. Yes, I’ve come down with it also at
times. I’ve had the symptoms (eagerness to get
ashore, probing questions about cafés) and
shown the signs (quickly dropping the dinghy in
think of Ocean Star and Near Enough and their
needs. I look for things that help my ships and
my shipmates, eager to return to the ships with
what I’ve acquired for them.
Instead of going ashore, sometimes I’ve spent
the entire day onboard. It’s a refreshing
experience to realize how self-sufficient life is
aboard Ocean Star or Near Enough. Shore is
functionally unnecessary. True, I lack Internet
access, an ice cream cone and post cards, but
these are so frivolous. Staying aboard helps me
realize this. Part of the reason I joined
Sea~mester was to separate myself from the
other world and find my life here. It’s nice to e-
mail my friends and speak on the phone with my
parents, but I don’t have to do it.
With the majority of my shipmates ashore, it’s a
chance to take advantage of a little quiet time. I
can sit in the shade or sun and read, or work on
homework. I can swim in the water or write in
my journal. A little personal time in smaller
groups is wonderful. When it’s just a few people
onboard, we can talk for quite awhile
uninterrupted. We get to know each other very
well. Then there’s the change to do other fun
ship stuff. In Les Saintes, Luke, Nattie and
Emily stayed back with Dan and Simon to sand
and repaint our secondary anchor. Coincidently,
we found ‘Luke’ in raised letter on the anchor’s
bottom. With Boomer’s help, Luke, Peter and I
got to climb the mast of Near Enough to the very
top. These things wouldn’t happen ashore nor in
a larger group.
So watch out for that fever. The ships are the
reason we all flew down here. The world we’ve
created is our life, if only for a while. Shore has
benefits (Ocean Star just can’t suffice my desire
for chocolate). I just remember that the ports are
something to be enjoyed and respected; we’re
lucky enough to be traveling to these awesome
places. We ought to explore and enjoy them for a
bit. The lesson is to let the ship be your home,
not the place you stay between visits ashore.
The job descriptions of our deckies and chefs
include simple tasks that are often overlooked.
On the battlefield our chefs manage to prepare
many delicious meals although it proves to be
challenging to keep crumbs off the countertops
and out from behind the stove. An issue also
arises in the area
of trash disposal.
trash bag back
into the can
struggle. Despite
these follies our
cooks have since
risen above this
mediocrity and
taken the time
needed to ensure a clean galley, yielding victory
on that front.
As a deckie it is important to have lights up
during dinner, although for reasons pertaining to
laziness, lights are occasionally thrown up
haphazardly. To avoid this, deckies now look to
their bosun for guidance and direction, allowing
for more organized preparation time. Despite
these small issues, what now seems to be a larger
battle is fought amongst the entire crew, as
personal belongings are frequently left on deck
unattended. The items are then captured to
prevent them washing aboard and stored in the
padlocked compressor box. While this matter has
been continual throughout our time on Ocean
Star it has recently improved as we have slowly
begun to understand the problems associated
with item losses, especially when we find
ourselves without body wash or shampoo.
While many people may settle for an ordinary or
common way of life, the Sea~mester soldiers
strive to overcome the many obstacles set before
us. Using our special talents and abilities we
regularly search for efficient yet original ways to
accomplish our everyday tasks. In the words of
our Commander-and-Chief, “Too many people
go through life putting forth the minimum effort
in order to exist. What we are doing here is
encouraging excellence and self improvement on
all levels.” At this point in the war against
mediocrity our morale is high and we will win.
The dedication of our crew allows us to ensure
quality throughout our everyday lives.
Weyl Child
The War on Mediocrity
Me diocrity n. (a) not being good or bad,
ordinariness. (b) very ordinary person with no
special talents.
Many wars have been fought and many men
have fallen, but no war has come to be as
necessary or essential as this one: we are fighting
a war against mediocrity. It is the belief of both
our soldiers and commanders that with enough
effort we will emerge victorious.
They waded through soggy towels and damp
swimsuits and knew something must be done.
They would no longer settle for less than the
best, weakness was not an option, and so began
the War on Mediocrity. Commander-and-Chief
Simon Koch along with General Daniel
Wurzbacher now lead the front lines into
combat. With each sunrise a new battle begins
and whether the end of the day brings victory or
defeat no one can tell. It is our goal as
Sea~mester soldiers to strive for excellence in
every way, conquering the sloppy nature that
creeps into our living space and eventually
infects our minds.
The Telltale
Wind - Rudder Indicator and Tale Bearer of
The Caribbean Sea~mester
Barbuda, St. Barth, Statia, Saba, BVI
Fall Edition 2005, Volume IV
The Re-Bio: From the Staff
Matt has gained the
Frankenstein here at
absolutely no reason.
developed a wide
range of skills here
to include a recipe
arsenal which will
surely impress many
upon return to the states. Matt’s witty sense of
humor and ability to roll with the punches makes
him a favorite to shoot the breeze with on deck.
I am definitely going to miss hanging out with
Word from the Editors
Well we’re back on the dock and ready to head
home a little more salty than we came. In our last
and final edition of the Fall 2005 Telltale we
hope to provide you with some tales of adventure
and maybe some more thoughtful pieces on the
end of an era. It’s been a great time sailing with
everyone. We’re sad to say goodbye to a great
crew and a great adventure. Thanks for
everything. Keep on rockin’.
Mike, Julia, Peter, & Mark
This guy never
ceases to astound
those around him.
physical Mark is
full of impressive
feats and performs
with a humbleness
that is envied. I
love sailing with
Mark because I
know he’s game
for anything and will always work hard while
loving every minute of it. The future feels safer
knowing Mark is on the Earth. Thanks for being
here Mark.
with his guitar and harmonica as well as his
quick wit. It is always great to have Peter around
because we know he’ll work hard and get the job
done well, the approach of a true perfectionist
and valuable team player.
Luke always makes me
feel good because he’s
into everything we’re
here doing. He loves
enthusiasm is intense.
attention to the world
around him not only
afloat but also ashore
hence his ability to
speak multiple languages. Luke’s ability to not
take himself too seriously is something I admired
and his sincere love for being out here is
something I’ll miss.
cheerful nature make
her one of the
friendliest and good
aboard is relaxed,
creating a reassuring
those around her. Katie’s smile is ever-present
and spreads joy throughout the boat, a ray of
sunshine to everyone. We’ll miss you Katie!
I love this guy. He’s
one of the only people
I have ever met who
can be seasick all
night long and keep a
smile through the
entire ordeal. Gabe
has an upbeat way
about him that attracts
others towards him
and a sense of humor
that keeps them around. Usually all I have to do
is look at Gabe and I start to smile, that’s a
quality that’s hard to find. Thanks for doing a
great job Gabe!
Sometimes known as
“Riddle” or “Hey
Diddle Diddle” Julia
proficiency in sailing,
navigating, and boat
aboard. Julia found
time between classes
leadership role as the
Chief Editor of the Telltale and teach herself
Latin. Julia is always interested, competent, and
an active participant in all we do, and her
friendly disposition has left Ocean Star a better
“Pistol Pete”, this
fine gentleman has
developed into a
highly certified and
navigator and sailor
throughout the course
of the voyage. Peter
further enriches the
atmosphere on board
Known as Auto for
heavy weather, Mr.
McBride has been a
solid member of the
crew throughout the
trip. His passion for
Skittles and late night
watch antics are his signature. Auto is equally
adept at making subtle jokes and having a
serious conversation. I consider Auto a loyal and
solid shipmate and I will truly miss having him
around as a student and more importantly, a
crewmember, he has
learned to handle sail
and the helm with
equal proficiency. It
was great sailing with
you Eric and best of
Jonny cakes, or self
Hammer” as he is
known, has brought a
intellectualism to our
him hold court in the
cockpit and have had the distinct pleasure of
awarding him the first ever Laz-master Cert for
his hard work and dedication to the lazarette.
Thank you Jon for you participation and
personality, you will not soon be forgotten.
Theo is rarely seen
without a smile on
her face. She is
either giggling at
jokes or is making
other people laugh.
Theo has a very
sweet nature and is
always willing to
lend a hand to her
shipmates for any
task. She is a
master of communications class jeopardy, and
answers squeeze questions with intelligence and
insightfulness. Above all, Theo has a kind word
for everybody and will bring joy to anyone she
meets. We will miss your sunny personality
Patrick has never
been known to us
by his given name,
since day one he
has only ever been
MC. A stalwart
dweller and the
master of all that is
dinghy, MC brings
attributes to our voyage. On top of his many
skills, he is a heck of a good dancer. I will miss
MC’s dedication, loyalty and friendship.
accent and incredible
sense of humo r have
laughing since day
one. Nick is most fond
of white linen, Cuban
cigars, and meat. If you want to know where to
find the best Caribbean chicken wings, just ask
Nick. Nick also has a penchant for free diving,
and is often found wearing his ski-like fins to
explore the deep bottoms of the sea. Everyone
will remember this character with great fondness,
as he and his stories will no doubt be legendary.
Eric is a genuinely nice guy. He is often smiling
and gently stroking his goatee, perhaps
pondering his place in the universe. He supports
his fellow shipmates in a very positive manner
and is rarely heard speaking badly of anyone. A
practicing her boat handling.
exceptional cooking skills made her days as chef
a real delight, and helped many shipmates
through their culinary struggles.
native is known as
“Birdman”, “Birddog”
or “Birdie”. Mike is a
pleasure to sail with
and to talk to. He gets
along so well with all
of the crew because of
personality, adventurous spirit and great sense of
humor. Birdman is a hard worker, is dedicated to
his shipmates, and has grown into a skilled
sailor. Though fond of hitting the slopes, Birdie
is also always up for a good dive or snorkel. We
will miss our Bird, but know he will be flying off
into a bright future.
Emily very quickly
nickname of Weyl Child
for her wild nature and
her last name. She is
very independent and
loved life onboard, often
choosing to stay on the
boats and work on
special projects over
going to shore. Easy
going and very outgoing, Emily is the girl to
hang out and have a great chat with.
Appreciated by all but part of no specific group,
Emily’s smile and laughs were a great addition
to the crew.
people”, Kevin does
not hesitate to speak
up to increase his
comfort and that of
Kagee, as he is also
known on board, is a
competent and eager
sailor and is always
keen to put sails up
and do as much as he can onboard with limited
staff input. His great smile and sense of humor
was always appreciated on board.
Nips-icles is perhaps
the biggest advocate
of boat appreciation
Nips can often be
found completing odd
jobs around Ocean
Star. When he’s not
working on the boats
he is often studying or
entertaining the crew
with one of his many
favourite being Adam Sandler, the Peeper. An
excellent sailor and respected leader, Nipples
will be missed.
participate in boat
showed her physical
endurance many times
by raising Tiny Tim
or hand-cranking the
anchor in 40 knots of
wind. She was keen
to learn all she could
on marine biology
and sailing and was
often found at the helm of Near Enough
Drew, or as we
affectionately know
him as Drew-TangClan or Drewski is
one of our most
competent sailors.
navigator, and also a
whiz in the galley,
whipping up many assorted sumptuous creations.
Always there to lend a hand or a listening ear,
Drewski is a friend to all.
The next day before showering, everyone was
excited to play another game. This time we made
some rules and had a more serious game. It
started as a 4-on-4 game and then quickly grew
to a chaotic game of 7-on-7. Simon generally
dominated everyone, except for my devastating
backhand shot, of course. Okay, well he pretty
much did rule the court but we all had fun in the
end and definitely got a good workout.
Aspen, aka Donkey
Cage, is at the
intellectual scholars.
Over these 80-days
she has become an
accomplished diver,
navigator and sailor,
as well as a master of
the early morning
yoga sessions on
deck. Aspen exists on
veggies, but it doesn’t slow her down, whether
it’s diving, sail handling or writing, Aspen is into
it all.
Passage to Saint Barth
On the night of November 22nd we set out on one
of our last passages. It was a great passage
through a beautiful star filled night. As the sun
rose on the horizon
we found ourselves
only a few miles off
the coast of our
destination, the isle
Barth is a small
island located in the
Lesser Antilles. It
Spanish, English,
and French. The French gained control of it in
the 1600’s and it flourished economically.
Pirates would bring their ships to St. Barth to
spend their plunders. Today St. Barth is still one
of the most economically stable islands in the
We anchored Ocean Star and Near Enough just
outside of St. Barth main port of Gustavia. We
spent our first morning cleaning our boat, as we
did we were passed by shining super yachts.
They were extravagant and luxurious boats with
hot tubs on their sterns and an endless supply of
chilled champagne
(I assume…). We
were also passed by
beautiful sailboats
hundreds of feet tall
flying flags from
itchin’ to go ashore
and as soon as we
the boat we went.
Water Polo
After a day of exploring the beaches of Barbuda
and undergoing some “navy-seal tactics” to get
the dinghies through the surf, we searched for
alternative sources of entertainment. Onboard,
we brought out the bag of balls and tried to
devise a game to play. The game that came about
was water polo. We played against the starboard
side of the hull of Ocean Star. A rope hung from
our davit and the swim ladder served as our goal.
We played “half-court” water polo, and it was
definitely the best place that I have ever played
before. The first day we played 3-on-3 with an
all time goalie. It was a more active game with
fewer people, but it was extremely tiring treading
water for that long. We played for about an hour,
and then we were too exhausted to continue.
As one steps on the dock you can see rows of
designer shops; Rolex, Versace, Louis Vouton,
and Georgio Armanio. There are a variety of
restaurants to choose from. We particularly
enjoyed Le Select which is reportedly the burger
joint that inspired Jimmy Buffet’s song
“Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
Saint Barth is known for its elaborate parties. It
is the hot spot for the rich and the famous. The
New Year’s Eve party in Gustavia is definitely
the place to be. Boomer himself has had plenty
of New Years on Saint Barth. On one occasion
he spent the evening chilling with P. Diddy on
his yacht. St. Barth is a great place to be anytime
of the year. We spent our spare moments
wandering through the shops and around the
docks looking at the beautiful boats. You never
find a moment on Saint Barth where there is
nothing to do. On Thanksgiving we went to
dinner at a quiet French restaurant. The cook
there prepared turkey and mashed carrots with
gravy for us. After our dinner we set out to enjoy
the night life on Saint Barth. Many of the crew
found their way to a jazz bar on the other side of
the harbor. It was a great night in one of the most
fun places to be in the Caribbean. We were sad
to leave the island of Saint Barth. It was
definitely my favorite island and I’m sure many
of the other crew members feel the same way.
was really tasty. We were thankful to have a
Thanksgiving dinner in a foreign country. All of
us had a great time and had a few laughs.
Everyone dressed up their best; people actually
wore clothing they bought in St. Barth.
That Thanksgiving will be remembered for years
to come in my mind because it was one
incredible evening of having fun with the
company of great friends/shipmates.
St. Barth Surf Day
It is rare that we receive an opportunity to go
surfing. And it is very rare for me to go surfing
on Thanksgiving Day. The island of St. Barth
provided us with the perfect learning
environment to attempt to ride some “gnarly”
waves. Like being on a family road trip, we were
squeezed into a rental van like helpless little
sardines as Boomer, our makeshift taxi driver,
sat behind the wheel and shuttled us to the beach.
The adrenaline was pumping and our hearts
fluttered in anticipation of the day to come.
Arriving at the shore we strolled towards the
waterline and began to prep. Peeling our rash
guards over our heads, we watched a few young
men catch waves further down the shoreline. It
seems that this sport is not just about athleticism
but also about looking “hot” while doing it.
Simon, being our veteran surfer, volunteered to
teach us a few maneuvers. Watching him surf
made it look easy, although we quickly
discovered that it would take a lot more than
Quiksilver board shorts and a sun kissed tan.
Despite our best efforts only a couple people
were able to catch a wave, while the rest of us
flailed about in the water trying our hardest to
paddle just a little bit faster. Emerging from the
water completely exhausted from our incessant
efforts, we glanced around at the half naked
Thanksgiving Away from Home
For most of the Sea~mester shipmates this trip
was probably one of the longest times being
away from home. There would be a lot of things
we would miss about home, one of which was
For most, it was our first
Thanksgiving away from home . It was hard to
believe that we weren’t going to be home with
family. Looking past all the sadness of not being
home we had a great Thanksgiving dinner that
nice people to mean people,’ who are genuinely
kind and helpful, and usually wave kindly as
they drive by.
The history is rich here, as it was a major center
of trading and smuggling during the 18th century.
The island changed hands between the British,
French and Dutch twenty-two times. Many of
the Dutch and English tradesmen became
wealthy as the island was a duty-free port,
receiving and dispatching hundreds of ships each
month. On November 16th , 1776, Statia became
the first nation to recognize the United States as
a sovereign nation by returning a salute to the
U.S. Navy brig Andrew Doria. A British ship
was also taken in nearby waters shortly
thereafter, so the British crown sent Admiral
Rodney to the island to straighten some people
He shut down the island, took the
tradesmen’s earnings and claimed them in the
name of the Crown.
For such a small
population, Rodney observed that the Jewish
population was having numerous funerals.
When he ordered that a coffin be opened, he
found the gold and silver which had been hidden
from his soldiers, confiscated it and deported the
offenders to St. Kitts.
Though it is now only a shadow of its former
prosperity, St. Eustatius afforded us with cultural
insight, a great hike, a fantastic wreck dive, and
the best Chinese food in the Caribbean.
French people who obviously felt comfortable in
their flesh. Some of our faces flushed with pink
from being exposed to a new culture whose
beach attire differed greatly from our own.
At the end of the day we trudged back from the
shore, smiles spread widely across our faces, and
a rose colored tint shone on our noses. While
many of us missed our families during the
holidays we were warmed by the thought that we
were surfing in St. Barth on Thanksgiving Day,
as so many others would never receive an
opportunity as great as that.
Weyl Child
After departing from St. Barth, we arrived in St.
Eustatius (Statia) after four hours of moderately
swelly downwind sailing. Ocean Star rounded
the south side of the island to anchor in
Oranjestad Harbor, whereas Near Enough took
the north side to sail through the dozen oiltankers waiting to load their cargo, and the
working tugs moving in between them.
We found the water in Statia to be so amazingly
clear that we could see our anchor buried in the
The Charlie L. Brown
You could see it on the sail into Statia as we
cruised around the West coast of the island,
peacefully resting in 80 feet of water. The faint
color change on the surface indicated what
wonders laid below, the wreck of the Charles L.
Brown. This wreck was not like most; most
have been under for decades, the Charlie Brown
has only been down for two years; most are
tattered, it is nearly pristine; most have sunk on
accident whereas it was sunk on purpose for
Before filling it’s niche as a dive site, the Charlie
Brown was an Italian-made cable-laying ship
from the 1950’s. It was owned by AT&T and
was responsible for connecting the Lesser
Antilles to the outside world. Once AT&T was
through with the ship they looked for a buyer,
but to no avail. Finally the island of Statia
purchased it for a nominal amount and AT&T
received a beneficial tax write-off. For a while
Charlie sat in the harbor as a monument while
the nationals re-confiscated her belongings as
sandy bottom. We subsequently found truth in
Boomer’s claim that Statia has the best ‘ratio of
their own. As the hurricane season began to set
in it was decided that it would be sunk as a dive
site. Quickly all the toxins were removed and
the Charlie Brown was laid to rest on its
starboard side.
The dive itself was as incredible as the boat.
Upon descending to about 60 feet the full form
came into view. We dropped onto the stern and
saw a sea turtle emerge from behind the
propeller that dwarfed us all. As we moved
forward, the utter size of the 100-meter
behemoth became apparent as the sea life
seemed slightly smaller than normal.
highlight of the dive was the swim-through that
comprises the middle third of the ship and was
once a walkway from the bow to the stern. We
entered the darkness in a single file line and
swam for the light at the end of the tunnel. Once
I got comfortable with the surroundings I was
able to enjoy the sights a bit more. On the sides
of the tunnel were huge drums that presumably
housed fuel at one point and when I looked
above I notice that the air got trapped on the
ceiling. It looked like mercury that was spilled
on the table and could be played with in a similar
manner, not that I advocate playing with
After the swim-through, we
approached the bow where the cable-laying
drums and cranes resided. I swam above a
Southern stingray for a bit and we met Chuck,
the godfather. He was the largest barracuda I’d
ever seen. He routinely hangs out on the bow of
the Charlie L. Brown. He doesn’t come to you,
you go to him. After a brief visit with Chuck we
meandered back along the hull and surfaced. It
was a great dive and the only place to go from
there was Sonny’s for a belly full of sizzling
captain Simon opened the doors to the exciting
world of real bodysurfing.
This life-changing experience happened on St.
Barth. Simon led a few of the proud and brave
on a twenty-minute hike through jagged rocks
and cacti to a beach with a continuous set of
eight to ten foot waves. At the beach we suited
up with our fins and mentally prepared ourselves
for the challenge.
Here’s how I learned to do it: through patience,
you pick the perfect wave, and you dive down
and start dolphin kicking a few feet below the
surface. You rise to the top of the wave and
prepare for the ride. If you are real cool you turn
on your side or perform a trick or two. I am just
beginner and there were no tricks being
performed. The hardest part is the dismount,
there is no easy way. My dismounts usually
consisted of getting dropped over the top of the
wave and executing three or four summersaults
underwater, landing on my head and getting
dragged to the beach gasping for air. Although
at this stage in the game my technique is far from
glamorous, just wait, you will see me on ESPN
competing in the Professional Bodysurfing
League really soon.
The Watersport of Watersports:
When one thinks about water sports the obvious
come to mind: sailing, windsurfing, water skiing,
wakeboarding, surfing and even kite boarding.
But there is one sport that almost everyone
seems to forget. This sport carries the same
intensity as the rest and sometimes greater risk.
Of course the sport I am referring to is
I’m not talking about the
bodysurfing you did in the Outer Banks or
Myrtle Beach on your family vacation with
grandma. I’m talking about the real deal. Before
Sea~mester, I was just as naïve. I had no idea
there was a professional bodysurfing league until
Some form of meat, beans, cheese, tortilla, rice;
these are the essential things that go into the
making of a fiesta. Having copious amount of
Mexican food for dinner has become a cherished
event on this voyage. It may seem fairly easy to
prepare, however putting together a “top notch”
fiesta is a delicate art form. There are several
different types of fiesta such as the taco,
quesadilla, burrito, and enchilada. These are all
unique and delicious.
For one reason or another this theme was more
prevalent on Near Enough. At some point a
fiesta seemed to occur nightly, however back-toback fiesta is not to be toyed with. This
delicious mixture of food can in some cases have
negative effects on the stomach and intestine,
and has in the past made the six man an
unpleasant place to rest your nose. Regardless,
the fiesta is always an all around joyous occasion
and excellent morale booster. Every night of
fiesta has a special place in my heart.
straight from Europe. Starting up the hill, we
were met by steep step after steep step. The
views were incredible. It was a pretty short hike,
and some of our shipmates raced up to the top.
Mark made it in just under an hour and Simon
and Gabe just over. The rest of us meandered our
way to the very peak, a nice small spot that many
of us crowded upon. We sat for a while in the
dense clouds, wondering what it might look like
if we’d been lucky enough to come on a clear
day. But suddenly (chimed in by Juila’s
“Ahhhh!!!!”) it did clear and we were given a
great view of the entire island of Saba, the
wonderful village of Windward and deep blue
ocean. We cheered it on, smiles on our faces so
proud of our hike. The way down was wonderful
as well, a lot calmer and sunnier.
We’ve hiked some wonderful places during the
course of our Sea~mester, each muddy, steep,
lush and fresh. Saba’s Mt. Scenery was one of
our best and also our last. Just like the trip, Mt.
Scenery was a tough climb up but worth the
view once on the peak.
From The Bottom to the Top of
Mt. Scenery
Saba Deep
Before arriving in Saba, we were told that it was
an island of extremes. It was indeed. Our dives
in Saba were deep and exciting. In Saba we dove
Saba is known for its extremes: the deepest
dives, the fastest drivers, the nicest people, and
the highest peaks. Mt. Scenery wasn’t a let
down. From our mooring we could see the
wonderful peak when the clouds cleared. We
were dropped off in the water and walked up to
the Ladder, a series of old stone steps that was
formally the only access to the village of The
Bottom. Once up, our breathing just slightly
heavy, it was a short walk through this sleepy
village up steep hills and around sharp turns.
Once we found the trailhead, we were
surrounded by
incredibly lush
green and ever
altitude. It was
down on the
village and the
roof was red,
the walls white
and the shutters
green. It was a
charming scene
with a dive operator called “Saba Deep.” Our
dive-master, a real character, was a womanizing
e x-pat named Mike. He was a bit crude, but a
barrel of laughs nonetheless. During our diving
day in Saba, we did two dives, both of which
were very deep.
Our first dive was on “Tent Wall.” We started
the dive by descending down to around 60 ft. We
swam next to the rock wall and then descended
down to about 90 feet. At this depth, there were
many cool things to see. Along the side of the
wall, bright coral was almost ubiquitous. Schools
of fish would swim near us, which was quite
exciting. What was unique about this dive is the
geological structure of the site. There was a wall,
but there were cliffs and ledges at different
depths. This made for some cool “free-fall”
After a one and a half hour surface interval, we
embarked upon our second dive. This dive was
als o very deep, with a maximum depth of 80
feet. In my opinion, this dive was by far the most
interesting we have done all trip. The dive site
was known as “Diamond Rock.” From the
surface, one could see a huge rock jutting out
from the water in the shape of a pinnacle. We
dove around this mountainous rock. This was a
really cool place to dive because when down at
80 feet, it seemed as if a gigantic mountain rose
from the ground up into the sky. It was as if we
were on shore at the base of a land mountain.
There was some really exotic aquatic life in the
water. I saw a stingray moving along the sand
and I lay down near it. This did not scare the
stingray. It swam towards me. I also saw three
nurse sharks. Both of these dives were very deep
and very exciting. What I will remember about
Saba is these two dives, and especially the
second dive, which I think is the most badass
dive of my career.
abandoned customs house that sailors used to
have to trek up to after anchoring. One wall was
almost entirely window, and looking out through
that old hole I felt like a customs officer of old
scanning for ships along the line where the
Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean met.
Eventually the head of the ladder deposited us at
“The Bottom,” the smaller and lower of the two
towns on Saba. The upward battle continued
from there until we were picked up by a truck
and carried to the Windward side.
We quickly exhausted the cultural, retail and
culinary offerings of the Windward side so we
soon mounted the steep road that led to the
studio. The room itself was lightly colored and
open so that the sunlight reflected off of the
thousands of tiny glass creations displayed on
tables and behind glass cases or hanging from
the walls. Jo Bean forms each of these beads in
the tradition of the first glass artists in the
Middle East 3,000 years ago. Each bead is
individually flame -formed by dipping a glass rod
in a small jet of heat until it reaches 2,000
degrees Fahrenheit. The molten glass is then
touched to a thin metal rod that the glass adheres
to. The rod is spun slowly so that the glass
covers it evenly. The rod with the molten bead
is cooled in water until the bead can be slipped
off the end. Second and third layers of color can
be added in different shapes and patterns to form
a thick multi-layer bead.
Awesomely, Jo Bean’s assistant Vivian let a few
of us create our own beads in this ancient
process. We chose a few colors from her
hundreds of rods of Venetian glass and then,
fully armed with ridiculous goggles, we
attempted to create beauty. It could be argued
that some, perhaps most, of us succeeded. Right
when I was ready to leave the rest of the group
began pouring into the pristine little studio, but
their dirty footprints on the clean white floor did
not seem to be a problem as they too were
welcomed in to try their hands at molten glass
After another hitchhiking experience and slow
decent down the ladder we were again on the
beach waiting to be brought back to Ocean Star
and Near Enough. By dinnertime everyone was
back and proudly sporting single slightly
malformed beads on thin pieces of leather.
Jo Bean Glass
Jo Bean’s glass studio is located on the
windward side of Saba which happens to be a
two thousand step ladder, half mountain or a
multi-ride hitchhike away from where Ocean
Star was moored. Stories of the glass artist’s
beads and growing fame motivated some of us to
take the journey. It turned out that the process of
reaching the tiny one-room studio was at least as
rewarding as the glass itself. The ladder, which
is more of an extremely long staircase built into
the steep side of Saba, first led us to the tiny
Simon and Boomer, a Tribute.
Imagine how warped your mind would become
if you lived on boats for years. Shut off from the
outside world. Imagine the stress of being in
charge of twenty highly inexperienced students
sailing some of the most hardcore boats in the
Caribbean. Many of us would crack under the
pressure of taking responsibility in such harsh
conditions. Our two captains seem to thrive on
the opportunity to take the un-molded and
inexperienced group that are sent to them every
term, teach them, relate to them, drive them to
succeed, and by the time the term is over, send
the once un-molded masses home as a new cut
version of themselves with the drive to succeed
and the spirit of adventure forever burned into
their souls.
my list of people I’m glad I’ve met. To
experience Boomer, go down to the beach, drink
four large glasses of water, spend all day in the
sun windsurfing, sailing and having a great time
the entire day, make a sand castle, eat a delicious
fiesta at a Mexican Restaurant. Have a heart-toheart about life, crack some jokes then go to
sleep and do it again the next day, and that’s
about what it’s like to live with Boomer. He has
an obvious passion for sailing and the
Sea~mester program, listening to him talk about
either is inspirational. I hope I run into Boomer
10 years down the road and find him doing the
same stuff he’s doing now because I believe
some people are born for a purpose and
Boomer’s is to sail around having adventures
and telling stories to guys like me.
I’m not saying the rest of our teachers and staff
aren’t equally as amazing as our two captains,
but a telltale can only be so long, and I think the
extra pressure of being responsible for it all
deserves a little recognition.
Passage to BVI on Near Enough
If you were to ask me eighty days ago what a
passage was, I would have a pretty good idea,
but if you were to ask me what they were like, I
would not be able to try and explain since I had
never lived through the experience. It is now
eighty days later, and if you asked me or any of
Simon, captain of Ocean Star is a pretty cool
guy. He likes to become the “get it done” kind of
guy when the occasion calls for strict action and
the idea is to do it right the first time. But if you
catch him on a nice day or anytime when he is in
the galley he’s easy going and has the kind of
sense of humor where he’s only trying to make
himself laugh but always ends up being funny
for everyone. I once walked down the
companionway to an empty salon, except for
Simon who was standing by himself with music
blaring doing the “Simon dance.” He looked up
and smiled. It’s hard to know the right reaction
when the guy responsible for your crew, the salty
sailor who is fearful of nothing, the man we go
to in any emergency, is doing the “Simon
Dance” by himself and smiling at you. For an
instant, I considered dancing too, but that would
have been twice as weird so I just smiled back,
nodded, and went back on deck. I guess it takes a
special kind of person to balance good times
along with a serious attitude toward sailing but
Simon and Boomer always manage to keep the
boats in order and moral high.
Boomer, captain of Near Enough temporarily
until he joins Argo in Thailand and begins his
journey around the world, is also pretty high on
the other shipmates the same question, “what are
passages like?” all twenty of the stories would be
told with excitement, but they would be in some
strange way different. The weather and sea
conditions were the same for everyone but
whether you were on Near Enough or Ocean
Star made all the difference. Usually after
waking up to the sunrise while approaching the
island of our next destination, some of us were
eager and could not wait for the next passage
while others could wait because getting seasick
again for many hours was something they had to
accept and get ready for. However, only a
couple of days ago we sailed off on our last and
final passage into the calm seas, so there was no
getting sick and everyone was just enjoying
every second we had left as shipmates.
At around 5:30 pm, right after dinner all 26 of us
Ocean Star and Near Enough sailors sailed into
the sunset away from Saba and back towards the
BVI. Before we started to make our way back
Boomer and C-tal told all 6 of us on Near
Enough that we would be in charge of our own
watch without any of their direct help. This
meant watching out for squalls, maintaining the
jib and mainsheet, plotting our position every
hour and making sure we were always heading
on the right track. Although there were a few
times when the crews on Near Enough were in
charge of their own passage, it was going to be
the first for me so I was very excited and could
not wait.
The passage was about 12 hours and was a 2
hours on and 4 hours off watch schedule. Since
it was our last passage and the sky was filled
with stars, I thought, why even bother going to
sleep. As tired as we were, Eric, Matt and I
stayed up with watch 1 and we played the name
game, which was a lot of fun. During the rest of
the sail we all just sat looking up at the stars
while thousands of thoughts rushed through our
brains such as thinking about Christmas time as
well as the person we have grown to be and what
we have learned in the past 3 months. After
many long hours we finally made it to the Baths
in the BVI where everyone swam for an hour
enjoying the huge boulders and history of the
Baths themselves. It was not until we arrived
back in the BVI that I realized how much I have
grown as a sailor.
If this was how I felt, I could not imagine what
all the other shipmates were thinking. It was
weird to think that three months ago we were
sailing away from the BVI making our way
towards Grenada not knowing exactly what we
were doing and now three months later we were
back where we began our voyage. This time we
entered the anchorage as confident sailors who
could be put up to almost any challenge. This
last passage really made us all think about who
we have become. We came on this trip as
students not knowing what there was to know
about sailboats and now we are leaving knowing
more than we ever expected to know. Some of
us might never step on a sailboat again while
many of us will. Whether that is the case or not
we are all sailors and have lived the life of a true
salty sailor.
BVI Passage on Ocean Star
On the evening of Day 73, we departed on our
bittersweet final passage from Saba back to the
BVI. As the sun set off our port side, we set our
sails, released the mooring, and set off NorthWest on a broad reach to the British Virgin
Islands. Once off the mooring, we turned off the
engine for the duration of the passage. The wind
filled our sails and pushed us at up to 10 knots
towards our destination.
Watch team one, comprised of Simon, Luke,
Birdman, Gabe, Johnie-cakes and myself, sat the
first watch from 1800 hours to 2100 hours. We
watched the sunset and enjoyed the limitless
stars of a moonless and cloudless first watch.
Watch two followed our extraordinary team with
the Danimal, Theo, Weyl Child, Aspen, Auto,
and Drewski. And, finally, team three followed
with Beaker, Lisette, Kevin, Peter, Nips, and
Nick. As the lights of St. Croix and the BVI
decorated the horizon, my watch came back on at
0300 hours to bring Ocean Star back home.
Overall, the passage had little of the action
experienced during other passage: Near Enough
kept all her sails on, Gabe didn’t feel the need to
boot, the skies stayed pretty clear, Exy remained
on deck, etc. Regardless of the lack of “action”,
the BVI passage carried its own significance for
our crew. It was our final overnight voyage, our
last time raising and lowering the sails, and our
last chance to sit watch with our teams. Though
we’d all been mentioning the close of the trip for
the last few weeks, the final entrance through
Round Rock passage brought a definitive
conclusion to our down island adventures.
It felt both welcoming to be back home in the
BVI and quite melancholic to realize that the Fall
Sea~mester was really a week from being over.
Coming back made many shipmates think about
how they’d changed since their last time in the
BVI 60 days earlier. We were a coherent crew as
we came into the Sir Francis Drake Channel, a
crew that looked completely different from the
confused one that left on day 9.
rescue mode, following the steps we each listed
in our Emergency Action Plans.
Dan and MC’s rescuers skillfully cleaned and
bandaged their ketchup- and purple makeupcovered wounds and monitored their ABCD’s
and general conditions. While this was going
down, the Boomer and Simon team brought the
two victims to the surface, out of their gear, and
onboard Ocean Star via Tiny Tim and Exy. Once
everyone was safe and sound, we mustered in the
cockpit for a debriefing on the exercise and
discussed what we did well and what needs more
work, after which we dispersed, readying
ourselves for more catastrophes.
Rescue Diver and Red Alert
Hobie Carnage
Hobie carnage is a long time tradition of the
Sea~mester Program. It was the first time many
of us have sailed on our own. We tested the
skills we have learned throughout the program
by having a four team relay race. We have heard
stories of the carnage caused by the Hobie Cats
in the previous years. Tales of Hobies colliding,
getting caught up in the dinghy line of a nearby
charter boat and of many men overboard. The
with Boomer
and Simon’s
teams in the
lead, Boomer
maneuver to
and Auto off
took the lead.
team has had
reputation for
the last few
years. They
have not even made it to the finish line, so his
team for this Sea~mester was extremely
enthusiastic and eager to break this losing spell.
It was a rough start for some of the teams,
including an early capsized Hobie, but everyone
recovered quickly and carried on with the race.
Boomer’s team was on a mission, they came in
first at every relay aided greatly by Beaker and
MC’s quick starts. Danimals team presented a
challenge in many races, coming in close second,
and Simon’s team had the fastest change over.
You’ve never heard screaming until you’ve
heard the Danimal bust out of the engine room
appearing to have battery acid in his eyes and a
screwdriver through his hand. His shouts made
“help” come running, and the shipmates adroitly
came to his rescue, as he proceeded into shock
and a fit of seizures. Meanwhile, up on deck,
other shipmates were attending to MC, who
looked as though his darling Exy had rewarded
his attentive and tireless care with a propeller to
the head. A scribe or two were diligently taking
notes on the accidents and current situations,
while the rest of us were busy spotting,
snorkeling, and diving for Boomer and Simon,
who had apparently “run into trouble” while
diving on the anchor and managed to get
themselves entangled and unconscious on the
anchor rode.
And now for the disclaimer: parents, before you
start calling the office, know that no people or
animals were harmed in these exciting little
transactions, as they were purely fictional acts
put on for our benefit. Simulated emergency
scenarios such as these are the final step in our
quest for the Rescue Diver certifications. As of a
few days ago, when we completed PADI’s
written test, we’ve been on “red alert,” which
essentially means that we have to be ready at all
times to drop what we’re doing and jump into
Nevertheless, Boomer’s team was determined to
break the losing spell, and they succeeded.
After the race was over there were many other
challenges among other teams, many more
capsized Hobies, and a lot of testing out of our
new sailing skills. It was a wonderful feeling to
be on these small sail boats and get them to go
were before, while some are far more
independent then they once were. Personally, the
biggest change that has taken place has been the
recent extraction of my nipple ring on the
evening of December 2nd off the coast of Saba.
While it was a painless undertaking, it was very
intense due to the nature of the beast and the
slight anticipation surrounding then event. I
entered and left the British Virgin Islands the
first time with a nipple ring, and now am
entering a second time, without it. While others
changed through experience and openmindedness, the loss of my nipple ring was
somewhat a safety precaution, but mostly the end
of another immature stage in my life.
The islands themselves have changed not in their
appearance, but rather in the amount of boating
activity around them has. In September there
were only a few boats floating around, mostly
private vessels, now there are hundreds of
chartered boats passing between harbors. Day
passages are more navigationally intense since it
is charter boat season.
Being in the BVI again with our new knowledge,
we are able to observe the piloting and make of
where you wanted, we were sailing them and we
knew what we were doing. It is so amazing to
see how far we’ve come and the changes we’ve
gone through. Some of us may continue on with
sailing, possibly make it into a career someday.
Then there are others who may never sail again,
but to all of us Hobie carnage will live on as a
great memory and realization of what we are all
capable of.
There and back again A Nips
The British Virgin Islands are not only a
beautiful cluster in the Northern, Lesser Antilles,
but they are also the group of islands from where
we began our Sea~mester adventures. At the
onset, most of us had no knowledge of sea
fairing, or how to conduct ourselves onboard
vessels such as Ocean Star and Near Enough.
Many changes have taken place since the last
time we were in these islands. As a crew, we
have changed drastically. In the past 80 days,
this group has become one of prudent mariners,
with the knowledge required to sail and navigate
both a schooner and a forty-five foot sloop. We
now all have acquired our Advanced Diving
certification, and some of us have received our
certification for Rescue Diver.
We have changed in our interactions as a group,
but also in how we carry ourselves as
individuals. Some are more open to trying new
things. Others are now more sociable than they
other vessels. We are able to comment on proper
handling of lines, sails, steering etc. Though this
may not seem like much of an undertaking, when
looking back at the first ten days from the last
ten, it is incredible to see how much information
we all have retained over only a short amount of
Though the BVI are wonderful, for some of us
they are not so inviting, because they remind us
that the end of the trip is only days away.
Though it is exciting to think about being able to
go home soon, leaving these vessels will be hard
for all of us in one way or another. But like my
nipple ring, everything comes full circle (well
We have all left our ma rk on these two vessels
whether it is a restrung ratline, a fixed head, a
replaced filter, a re-sewn sail, a lost bucket, or a
scrubbed hull. Reciprocally these boats have left
cuts, scrapes, scars, callused feet, weather beaten
faces and many a fond memo ry shared among us
connected and that the best approach toward
fulfilling my needs is filling the needs of my
environment. I must work with the elements as
opposed to against them.
When you live on the water, you begin to
understand that your home simultaneously
presents itself as your livelihood and your
potential destruction. You realize that every
action has a purpose and every inaction has a
consequence. You begin to understand that
survival depends on working in harmony with
the forces surrounding you. Ocean Star and Near
Enough have been the most effective instructors
in this regard. We constantly strive to find the
proper trim and point of sail in order to let the
wind carry us to our destination. Every piece of
equipment has its place and remains where we
can easily find it should we need it. This is not a
situation where you can pursue your own
interests, rather you must work in concert for the
benefit of the boat. Doing so satisfies your
personal needs. Working together proves the
most efficient way to fulfill the goals of
everyone on board.
Life on board Ocean Star and Near Enough has
been one of discovery and rediscovery. I feel
connected to the world. I appreciate the physical
shape I am in. I have also noticed the increase in
muscle mass and decrease in baby fat among my
fellow shipmates. While I am excited to return
home, I am apprehensive about the potential
return to some bad habits the trip has helped me
break. I am glad to return to the ones I love, but
sad to say goodbye to new friends. And though I
have obligations on shore that demand my
attention for an indefinite period of time, I think
it’s safe to say that the sound of the crashing
waves and smell of salt will eventually call me
back to sea. And when it calls I, and I hope my
new friends, intend to answer.
The Adventure Ends
Our arrival in the British Virgin Islands marks
the ending of our adventure. It is difficult to
articulate the feelings experienced by each
shipmate as we all experience different emotions
regarding the closing of this chapter in our lives.
Among my fellow crew members I have seen
excitement, relief, sadness and a plethora of
other emotions revolving around the inevitable
return stateside. But rather than speak for the
entire crew I hope to express the profound
impact this journey has had on me, trusting that
it applies to each of us in some way or another.
How does one describe the power of the sea?
Personally, it is something that seeps into you.
You begin your voyage with a recreational
appreciation for the elements you face. But
gradually the sea presents its might and you are
left in awe of it as you begin to love it. The salt
soaks into your marrow. The sea is the only
place on earth I know of where I can experience
God wholly and everywhere around me. I have
felt it as the gentle caress of wind flowing over
my face. I have felt it as a powerful fist of water
pounding against the hulls of Ocean Star and
Near Enough. Underneath the surface, I have
seen an entire world working in equilibrium. A
world that I feel privileged to visit but I am
saddened by the knowledge that we destroy it
each day with pollution and over-fishing. The
sea has taught me that everything I experience is