My travels began early Tuesday morning. We arrived at DFW at around 6 a.m. and made our way through security, all with just a few minor hitches. Resplendent in our matching shirts, we boarded our first flight, all staving off sleep. After an extended layover in Miami brought on by a brief downpour, we continued on our way to San Juan. Once there, we waited for our Seaborne Airlines flight, a fan favorite from last year. As with last year, we walked directly onto the tarmac and directly onto the plane. Propelled by twin prop blades, we soared up and up, reaching a final altitude that allowed us to just barely clear the trees beneath us. In the same moment that we had reached “cruising altitude” and the flight attendant told us it was safe to remove our seat belts, the pilot told his two dozen passengers to prepare for landing. Totaling 23 minutes, the flight concluded with us walking back onto the tarmac and through customs, into the awaiting arms of Casey and Jeff McNutt, our generous hosts for the week. The ensuing boat ride from Tortola to Virgin Gorda was passed listening to Jeff’s ever-expanding wisdom and life lessons and looking at stars that looked vaguely like a Jackson Pollock painting. We then received our cabin assignments, mine consisting of Chris Ayers, David Davis, Garrett Buckley, Andrew Suarez, and of course myself. The rest of the night finished with unpacking and bed claiming.
The calm of night was broken at dawn by the resident chickens of Guavaberry Resort. Heralding their supremacy throughout the island, they proudly and fearlessly perched outside each window, tactically positioning themselves to create a never-ceasing screech. After resigning ourselves to the inevitability of the noise, we took the opportunity to gather our supplies for the day. After meeting with the owner of Guavaberry, Tina, we went back to the front of the resort, where our taxi driver, Glenn, drove us to the ‘Olde Yarde’. As always, he was greeted with a wave of ‘Hey Glenn mon!’s. Presentations began soon after, including general introductions to the week’s schedule and the Dive BVI staff that will be with us this week. During the presentations, the guys in Marine Biology 2 received our underwater cameras and set up all of the proper settings. We also played a fish identification game, and I won an extra lens attachment for the camera ( Thank you very much Casey and Jeff!). After these festivities and lunch, we split into our two boat teams, mine being the Sea Dragon. We drove to the site of our old reef to inspect its progress and see the effects of anchor damage of the past year. After this, we sailed the short distance to Baraka Point, the site of the new reef. On this dive, we scoured the sea floor for viable locations to place our new camera. Once we had decided on one, we drove back to the marina and reconvened with the other boat to head to dinner.