Location: Road Harbor, Tortola
I awoke to the bright sunlight of the beaming British Virgin Islands sun — yet another night of sleeping on the floor. As I slowly opened my eyes, not giving in to the temptation of rolling over and just falling back asleep as I tend to do most mornings, I sat up in the middle of three people rushing around me to get breakfast on the table so we could get sailing as fast as possible. Most people had already taken care of their sleeping space and either taken down their hammock or picked up their sheet and pillow. Since it had rained the night before, most of us had crammed into the living room of the boat. Given that the majority of the sleeping spaces are located outside or on top of the main cabin, the majority of the girls slept on the makeshift bed, and David and I slept on the floor.
We all gathered in the cockpit to eat breakfast as a family, with Teo being the last to rise with much resistance from his beauty sleep. We all ate french toast with many toppings, as our chefs for the day, Carly and Pardis, continued to cook more and more — all the while screaming in French accents from the kitchen. At this point in the day, the Rebuilding Island Life students left us to go help at a house that we’ll all be visiting tomorrow morning. Soon after breakfast was finished and our dishies had finished washing our plates and utensils from the meal, we picked up the anchor with the help of some of my shipmates and set sail for the destination of the day, Road Town.
During the long sail, I had the opportunity to watch an intense card game taking place indoors, talk with Teo on the bow, and help sail the boat towards Tortola. As we dropped anchor, everybody put on sunscreen and sandals (besides the two New Yorkers who had refused to buy “strappy sandals” that wore sneakers, myself included). Then we loaded the dinghies and started towards our service project for the day, measuring the mangroves in the area to monitor their recovery following the destruction from the recent hurricane, since they have a large impact on the islands and ecosystems within the Caribbean. We trekked through murky water up to our knees to pipes that contained mangroves planted by GoBeyond students of years’ past. As we arrived, we split up into groups for counting the number of standing pipes and measuring the success of the juvenile mangroves in the pipes. I, thankfully, was placed into a group with one of my close friends on this trip, Father David. We made the measuring into a game and finished our twelve trees very fast, so we got to mess around in the few inches of water and play with the surrounding baby sea urchins and jellyfish.
As the other groups finished their measurements, we started heading back towards the boat and got dressed and ready for shore time. The Rebuilding Island Life students arrived back from their service project as the last of ours arrived back from ours, and we picked up anchor to dock at a marina. As we gathered in dinghies to go the capital of the BVI, Road Town, we were given back our phones and spending money. As for me and my close friends on the trip, Teo, Austin, David, and Ryder, walked around the town during the first hour of shore time, we picked up some snacks from a grocery store and talked to our loved ones. As time went on, we picked our eyes up from our phones and realized that the majority of the stores were closed. Wondering why this was, we asked some locals, and we were told that Sunday on the islands was a break day. With our two hours left, we explored the town and saw many abandoned cars, houses, and boats, with either window broken or masts left astray. As our shore time came to a close, we all got take-out from the only open restaurant, myself with a double bacon cheeseburger and a side of fries, using the last of my spending money (sorry, Mom and Dad) and got back on dinghies to our boat.
Directly after we arrived back on board, we picked up anchor again and headed back towards Great Harbor Peter where we had started the day. While there were especially choppy waves and some rough weather, it was very enjoyable to try to steer with all of my strength against the ocean. After we made it back and were settled in, we started saltwater showers which involved a lot of screaming and laughing as everybody just messes around during them. Soon after, my cabin-mates and I attempted to consensually “forcefully baptize” Teo — only to be stopped halfway by our staff member, Dara, who is always watching out because she knows that half the time we’re doing something we aren’t supposed to be doing. As everybody had now showered and changed, we were ready for an amazing meal of breakfast for dinner. I attempted to eat a 6.6-pound canister of fruit for a bet, losing at around three-quarters of the way through. The day came to an end as I, the skipper of the day, asked my question for the daily “squeeze” which was as follows: “If a doctor told you that you had 3 months left to live due to a sickness, but your treatments start soon and tomorrow was your only normal day left, what would you be most grateful for in your everyday routine that you don’t often recognize on a daily basis?”