With our summer officially kicked off by our Early Programs, the Sail Caribbean season has officially began! The marina docks were a buzz with life early in the morning as staff began the days preparations to welcome our second crews of the 2021 season! Vessels moved and docked, cabins cleaned, life-jackets hung, and provisioning distributed by our staff who have been eagerly waiting the arrival of our Ones program students.
Students landed at Beef Island Airport (EIS) directly on Tortola, but a majority ventured to St. Thomas (STT) where they were met in baggage claim by our staff members and together they caught a private ferry to Tortola, BVI. Onlookers in baggage claim were definitely envious of our campers as they didn’t receive near as warm of a welcome to the Caribbean waters. After a long day of travel, students began flooding the docks, greeted with the smiling faces of their Captains & Mates, their vessels, and a spread of hot food (chicken, rice, and coleslaw) from our Provisions Managers. Following newly filled stomachs, a call home, and a shower, students were able to mingle with their new crew and explore their new home for the next 3 weeks. t, lights were dimmed across the docks as heads hit pillows and eyelids closed.
Before we knew it, roosters were crowing and the day had began. Heads popped up from below decks and out of hammocks as the breakfast bell tolled. Today’s breakfast was breakfast buffet! A mouthwatering spread of bagels, cereals, oatmeals, apples, oranges, bananas and more awaited our hungry sailors ready for their 1st day on the water. Following breakfast, students received a prior to first briefing. A prior to first is an in-depth orientation of the boat explaining of how things work and safety protocols to maintain while onboard.
After the briefings, the students jumped right into a de-docking lesson to prepare them for their first maneuver aboard as a team. Between the de-docking lesson and the actual de-docking, a mini-Mike talk was given by the Ones programs’ Program Director, Eliot Faust. The mini-Mike talk was to welcome the students down to the BVI, inform them of Sail Caribbean specific rules, and to discuss the once-in-a-lifetime adventure they’re about to embark on.
With students on the helm, nine (9) boats perfectly made their way off the docks and out the channel to sea headed for Benures Bay, Norman Island! Together, crews learned how to raise/lower their mainsail and to furl/unfurl their jib. Canvases of white reflected off the deep glistening blue of the waves as our nine boats raised their sails for the very first time. A moment for many of our Captains and Mates remember. Why? Because as they watch their crews raise their main sails for the first time, they can’t help but envision how much these new sailors will learn and improve during these next 3 weeks! The wind in their hair and a fresh ocean spray kept students company as they stretched out their sea-legs for the very first time on program! After a 3 hour sail, canvases were lowered and furled and students prepared for their first mooring ball pick-up. A mooring ball is a place to safely secure your boat for a few hours or the night. The mooring ball floats on the surface and is connected to a large, heavy anchor permanently attached to the seabed. One-by-one, vessels made their way into Benures Bay to pick up mooring balls. All Nine boats successfully picked up mooring balls.
Once secured on the ball, students were able to take a dip in the sea before sunset showers and dinner preparations for stuffed peppers began. With pans sizzling and ovens roasting dinner was ready in no-time and students sat together for another family-style meal.
Following dinner, all were mustered to complete their daily chores to keep the boat in tip-top shape. The duty roster (daily chores) is a very important part of our boat life as a clean boat is a happy boat! Positions on the roster range from swabbing the decks to cleaning their cabins to our DJ of the day who’s in charge of keeping the boats’ heartbeat alive with only the greatest music. Dancing crews could be seen throughout the bay as they tidy up for the evening. As evening rolled in and boats glistened like new, students and staff settled in for their first boat meeting to discuss how the day went and reflect on all they’d learned. Many crews headed to bed early, like kids on Christmas holiday, as they couldn’t wait to wake for the following day’s adventure.