Okay, thanks for that. I have to admit my personal frustration was driving me close to the point of giving up on the whole thing. It's hard work playing what amounts to a solo game, but I also have some sympathy for the other players as we've been largely pursuing my own character's personal objective this year.
We definitely missed the hooks you dangled, or probably fairer to say we didn't recognise them as leading anywhere fruitful. The way they came across to me at least felt like things being signposted, but then snatched away before we could do anything meaningful with them. To help you understand this better, I'll briefly describe the way these events felt from this side of the screen.
The sea devil attack looked like some exciting action was happening, but by the time Sterling had got his armour on it was all over and we had no part to play in the defense. That was a disappointment and felt like we were being shown stuff but not allowed to touch.
The drug situation again looked like something interesting going on to get involved in, but our initial attempts to find out more provided no leads to follow. Here we did misinterpret the signs, as it seemed we were being encouraged not to pursue this.
Then we went to the pretty waterfall and nothing at all happened. By this stage it felt like we were really just tourists and the frustration was getting serious. The prospect of touring lots of other islands and finding nothing happening was not particularly inviting (even if based on incorrect assumptions).
My expectation was that we would deal with the real estate issue in short order, then fast forward through all the details, sea voyages, Sterling's wedding and the return, to the establishment of our new jobbing adventurers party. I hadn't expected any major adventures during this part, and that may have contributed to my letting things go more readily than you had intended.
I've read your IC post and I intend to respond as I think there's a good link there to our future set-up. Maybe if we focus on some actual mission it might help get the others engaged again and we can hopefully handle the real estate issue as more of an aside than the main event.
"...with frikin' lasers!"