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Delta 1, Days 8, 9 & 10: Challenge Day and Overnight Passage!

By wpdev July 3, 2019
Written by Julian Reda and Sarah Leigh Enticott
Edited by Meredith Evridge

Day 8

Today we woke up at Trellis Bay where Challenge Day was to begin.  The skipper of the day made sure to wake everyone before going to staff boat with the day’s mate and navigator.  After a thorough briefing from the Program Director and Fleet Captain on the day’s schedule and navigation, the morning meeting was ended with this caveat: the sailors were allowed to ask a total of three questions to their (adult) captain and mate. They were warned that sometimes the questions are too quickly used up due to students forgetting that they should ask their teammates instead. Once that was understood, and everyone was feeling excited to take on this challenge, it was back to boats for a nourishing breakfast of pancakes!

As breakfast came to a close, Open Water students prepared to go on their final Open Water Training Dive. We then made a plan to drop the ball and motor to Marina Cay. We would have a few activities before the official Challenge Day sail would begin.

Once we arrived to Marina Cay, all went aboard Mayotte for a marine biology lesson on fish identification. To immediately apply the knowledge we had just acquired, we headed to Diamond Reef for a snorkel around the coral.  It was another beautiful, clear swim through to where the creatures are quietly going about their sea business! The coral was abundant and thriving, to the delight of all. Some say that Diamond Reef got its name because of someone dropping their engagement ring there. Though we did not see any diamonds, we saw ocean treasures without price. Exhilarated, we then returned to boats to hand over the boats to our eager campers. The staff observed both Delta boats working together more than they ever had, efficiently dropping the ball and sail their way to Mountain Pt. The white capped waves crashed against the speedy monohulls, kids shouting out neighborly reminders for each other. The staff only stepped in when necessary, but the students took control of sail trim and heading with gusto.

Many tacks later, we anchored at Mountain Point. It was time to shower and prepare for Chili Cookoff.  This is when each boat cooks a special batch of chili and comes up with a fun theme. After we welcomed the special guests and they judged our costume theme and chili (both were exceptional versions of the classic bean and ground beef medley!), it was time for a quick boat clean so we could squeeze in a night snorkel.

The snorkel was filled with biolume and many large fish, on their way somewhere. During boat meeting that night, we debriefed our Challenge Day sail. We went over things that went well, and things that needed to be worked on. We all fell sound asleep, satisfied with our fun-packed day in the Caribbean.

Day 9

The first day of July was a busy day for all intrepid adventurers on the Delta program; lots of things to do to make the boat safe and ready for its overnight adventure.  After a leisurely wake-up of 08h00 (we’re all learning to use maritime time on this program as well) there was a round of screams and laughter when many students enjoyed the “Poparazzi.” This is a huge innertube beloved by years of Sail Caribbean campers. After this brief adrenaline rush, it was back to stowing things away, raising and securing the dinghy on the bow, and some man-overboard lessons.  

Both Mayotte and Zanzibar went to Leverick to refuel and water up and get last minute provisions. It was all hands on deck to get everything ready to leave on time.  An early dinner of chicken pasta bake was enjoyed by everyone and then it was time to say goodbye to BVI waters. Time to head out into the North Atlantic Ocean! We began our watch system of three students and a staff member at 21h00, for a watch of three hours at a time. Students soon began to get the hang of clipping themselves into the jacklines and moving around the boat safely. There were a few who felt queasy but this was helped with lots of ginger nut cookies and ginger beer.  Copious amounts of Tostitos didn’t hurt anything either! The stars were amazing, everyone’s eyes adjusting to the darkness.

We began to appreciate the quietness of being out on the ocean and how special this experience was. Quiet chatter was heard in the cockpit during watches, and silly jokes traded between a group of individuals who had become a crew. These were among the special moments that we will all remember.  Tiredness set in and while some students tried to stay awake for multiple watches, some did not achieve their aim. As one individual fell asleep at the navigation station with radio in hand, their kind co-sailor took over and let them rest. 

The 79 nautical mile passage from Virgin Gorda to St Martin was not easy but we have achieved our aim. While I (I, being the writer, Sarah) sit on this pretty island and reflect at how fortunate I am, I look back and cannot help feeling extremely proud of each one of these Delta adventurers. Stay tuned for more news as we explore the Leeward Islands! 

Day 10

We awoke in the middle of the open ocean for our shift rotations throughout the early morning with no land in sight. It was a special experience to be so far from land yet so close to our shipmates. We worked together so well, and everyone was comfortable with the simple requirements of that day: make sure that everyone is safe, have fun, and keep learning. As we made our way toward St. Martin, we were treated to beautiful sights: an open ocean sunrise and a pod of dolphins playing in our wake. It was a calm and beautiful scene.

Upon arrival to St. Martin, we conducted another thorough boat clean, took showers and prepared to go ashore to explore Marigot. We also enjoyed quite a nice dinner out.  It was refreshing to have a nice meal that we did not have to cook and then clean up after! Everyone enjoyed seeing each other in a new setting, sparking new conversation and giggles. It was then time to return to boats where we had a quick boat meeting and then a night’s rest after an accomplishing 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.