July 26, 2016

Striking bow! Striking spring! Striking stern! The skipper’s commands echoed back to us from the dock hands. Lines were struck and tossed, littering the air, signaling the beginning of our Caribbean adventure. We cast off, motored to the reaches of the mangroves that harbor Hodges Creek Marina, and laid our eyes upon the Sir Francis Drake Channel lying in wait for our crossing. The first brush of the classic northwesterly winds swept across our bow and through the group, stirring our laughter and shouts of joy and celebration.

While the waves lapped up against the hull, our captain and mate taught us about how to pick up a mooring ball, the next task we would be responsible for completing. They explained that the success of the team relied wholly on the communication between us all, each of us taking an important position and specific task on the boat. They talked about handling the boat and the importance of keeping the bow into the wind to control the speed and direction of our vessel, emphasizing that “slow is pro.” When all was said, it was time to get it done. They handed controls back to the skipper who’s voice again rang out with decision and command, assigning each student a position, calling out for information from the bow, and communicating the boat’s movements. Both boats in our fleet got to experience a “teachable moment” as we missed the mooring ball on the first approach. We got to come together and make a second plan which included more communication. The second approach revealed that this was, indeed, the key to our success. We glided onto the mooring ball, threaded the painter, and made lines fast on the bow. Cleat hitches holding us fast and in place for a quiet night onboard where we cooked dinner together, cleaned together, and had a boat meeting that recapped the days activities, highlighted future goals and, overall, brought us closer together as a team.

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