June 26, 2016
First of all, let’s introduce Delta fleet! We have two vessels, both Beneteau Oceanius 48ft Sloop rigged Monohulls. The first is called Meursault and the second Mont Louis. On each vessel, we have 8 student campers along with a Sail Caribbean Captain and Mate. In addition, our Program Director is traveling alongside the fleet on a Staff vessel, but will be moving aboard when Delta splits from the pack to head down island around July 2nd.
Today, Delta fleet awoke after the first night as sailboat crew. Many slept in hammocks above decks, while others set up below in cabins with fans on full force to combat the Caribbean heat. Breakfast was a delicious smorgasbord of yogurt, bagels, scrambled eggs, and cereal.
After breakfast, we all headed to the Sail Caribbean Divers Dive shop to get snorkeling gear ready for underwater adventuring! Back to the boats, and the learning begins… first of all, we went through all the things we need to know for living on board, everything from names of all the boat parts and how to use winches, through to how to make water come out of the taps below (not as easy as you would imagine!), lighting the stove and using the toilet – called a ‘head’ on a boat. By 11 a.m., we had PFD’s on, and were ready to pull out of the slip and de-dock for the first time!
All of the crew had roles to do, such as navigators, line handlers, and even Skipper of the day – the one on the helm driving the boat off the dock. Our first de-docking was AWESOME! Despite the strong Easterly’s that blow each day, we were able to turn the bow up into the wind and exited the dock with cheers from our fellow fleet members.
For our first passage, we had to navigate about 5nm across to Cooper Island. The crossing was quick, focusing on motor sailing with our jib and mainsails. When we arrived, the group jumped into the water for our first warm Caribbean waters swim. Right away, we had a turtle swimming around us, a big old Green turtle, known as ‘Humpy’ due to the large ‘hump’ on the side of his shell.
In the afternoon, we spilt up into groups. Divers went ashore to start on their first diving lesson session, students signed up for Basic Keelboat certification went out on ‘Opal Bella,’ our 22 ft Colgate sailing boat, and sailed for an hour off the North side of Cooper island….while all the rest got out on the blue water wake boarding.
By the early evening, we were all back on boats and ravenous for a dinner of Burritos, followed by a boat meeting. On Meursault, crew all shared stories about what their middle names were and how their names were chosen, while on Mont Louis, they played ‘two truth ands a lie’!
Finally, the stars came out and the anchorage grew quiet, and campers retreated to hammocks and cabins, signaling the end of another magical Caribbean day.
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.