After our days in Trinidad, we set sail and enjoyed a quiet night at sea. The first rays of light rose as shafts from a central point, where the sun would soon emerge, almost directly ahead of National Geographic Explorer. Ever widening, the light finally dissipated into the darker sky overhead. Off to the north, the island of Tobago could be clearly seen, and to the south was the northeast portion of Trinidad. We spotted numerous oil platforms dotted about, oil being the main source of income for the country we had just left.

High up in the sky, the occasional frigatebird was sighted. These magnificent birds with their long wings are masters of the skies, and over long periods of evolutionary history, they have become masters at scooping up flying fish and stealing food from other seabirds. We also spotted other birds throughout the day.

Suddenly, a cry went out, “Dolphins ahead of the ship!” We rushed to the bow, and for the next twenty minutes or so, we were treated to a real show as these magnificent cetaceans rode the bow of the ship. In doing so, they gave us all a master class on swimming expertly. These were Atlantic spotted dolphins. A little later, some bottlenose dolphins were also sighted.

As is often the case, magnificent clouds could be seen all about the ship, with their flat bottoms and cotton ball formations billowing upwards. It was a magical and serene way to start this new day.

Throughout the day, we had opportunities to attend various presentations: how to better master the wonderful cameras in our cellphones, an introduction to the geology of the region, and a chance to hear more about the incredible life of seabirds and their adaptations to life on the ocean.

Of course, another integral part of life is the chance to enjoy yet another sumptuous meal and chat with fellow shipmates about the day’s adventures. The warm weather and balmy seas contributed to the laidback approach to everything we did on this first day.

During cocktail hour, our expedition leader presented the plans for the next day. Our Captain welcomed us on board and presented the officers of the ship. Each officer heads up a team that helps make up the magnificent crew on board National Geographic Explorer, in some cases for well over 20 years.

But this was not all–after dinner, we were treated to a wonderful evening of music courtesy of Drew Gonçalves, a wonderful musician from Trinidad who currently lives in Ottawa, Canada. It was a chance to listen to calypso music and learn a great deal about this genre. For a few numbers, he was joined by our ethnomusicologist, Jacob Edgar.

The sunset was as peaceful as the sunrise. A giant orange orb sunk below the horizon over calm seas amid a few wispy clouds.