Location: West End, Tortola

We, the team on Bavastro, cannot believe that our time with the crew is up. It has been an amazing session, and every member is sad to see it come to a close. This session, we had students from two different programs onboard. Carlos, Van, Jake, Renee, Naomi, Lily, John, and Luke completed the Vega program, earning their PADI Open Water Diver certification and their IYT International Crew Certificate. Max, Diego, and Loki completed the Barracuda program, earning their junior advanced open water certification, and Diego and Loki earned their IYT Crew Certificate as well! Luke was our first skipper of the day, and his hard work and positive attitude kicked off the session in a wonderful way. The first few days were busy, with SCUBA chats and long sails. We then began having Rotation Days, which are action filled days where we all rotate through different activities, such as scuba diving, sail training, dinghy sailing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, knot tying and more. During the diving, our own Jay was the advanced dive instructor, and our own Tanner was the open water instructor along with Kate from Saleya. The advanced divers completed their first ever night dive. Loki, Max, and Diego saw rays, squirrelfish, and even a nurse shark on their night dive! In between rotation days, we sailed from island to island, and during these sails the crew learned how to operate each part of the boat, eventually becoming independent sailors in time for the first race on day 17. Renee was skipper for the first race day, and she attended the skipper’s meeting in the morning and appointed Van, Lily, and Loki to be on the helm for the first race, which Bavastro WON! Some claim it was because of the teal colored zinc sunscreen Renee put on our cheeks like war paint, and others say it was because of our dancing, but I think we all know it was due to the amazing teamwork and collective spirit that came together on board that day. Many shipmates identified this first race as the point in the trip at which they had the most fun because everyone was working together towards the same goal! Anytime we had a small respite in between activities or after dinner; there was never a dull moment. Carlos could always be found using his spidey skills to climb on something new and finding new ways to make us all laugh and smile. Diego could be found making houses of cards and smiling and laughing his wonderful laugh. Occasionally, Renee could be found practicing makeup on one of the other shipmates, such as Zach or Luke! Naomi would be talking about animals or trying to see turtles and dolphins off our bow. Lily could be found exercising her amazing artistic talent while sketching in a notebook or creating the whiteboard for the next day with Naomi. Our boat mascot, Mr. Hedgie, made frequent appearances in this endeavor. Loki could be found singing sea shanties and gazing off into the distance like a sailor of old, and John could be found playing a spirited game of Uno with Jake and Max, who were excellent competitors.

Loki, Max, and Diego were also often found asking Tanner, our resident marine biologist and dive instructor, many questions about the ocean and the creatures that they saw on the dives. Van could be found making Nutella toast, flipping some fluffy and perfect pancakes, cooking some French toast, eating shredded cheese by the handful, or making his friends smile and laugh. Luke was always found lending a helping hand and aiding the staff in achieving boat goals while making everyone feel included and appreciated. In the evenings, we watched the stars. The Milky Way was bright and clear and beautiful as it arched over our heads and the beginnings of bioluminescence swirled beneath us. One night, the shipmates even chose to sit up on the bow looking at the stars and talking instead of having a movie night. This speaks to how close as a group we have become. What a grand adventure it’s been, these 21 expeditionary days out here on the waves of the sea. Thank you, everyone, on Bavastro, for becoming so close. Thank you for your unexpected hugs and hours of laughter. Thank you for your growth and self-discovery. Thank you for being open and kind and ready to smile. Your smiles will be remembered here, at ActionQuest, long after you’ve returned to life on land. You’re a part of a grand tradition of sailors and pirates, seamen and woman, and travelers of the world’s oceans, who feel, deep in our hearts, the call of the waters and the wild. Thank you, dear friends, for a beautiful, exciting, and exorbitantly fun Bavastro session 1.