Written by Julian Reda and Jackie Bonifiglio
Edited by Meredith Evridge

The day started with a warm wakeup as the sun shone over the calm waters. The air carried soft music from the salon to the cockpit as we ate french toast or bagels and cereal. The Open Water divers packed their things to head off on an underwater adventure. They were excited to get their final confined water dive going!  Meanwhile, everyone else conducted pre-departure checks. We demoored and headed over to Salt Island for a short hike. On the motor over, students had a lesson on the procedure of dropping anchor.  It seemed to be a challenge for most of our fleet, but we kept trying and succeeded on our third try. We took the dinghy to shore. 

The hike up Salt Island is a nice, uphill stroll with a wonderful view of the Sir Francis Drake Channel at the top. It felt like a really quick hike but the view was beautiful and filled with blue water, white clouds and big smiles. The students were taught about the history of the island. They could see the Wreck of the Rone from the peak we reached, and counselors disseminated the tale of the steam ship that sunk in 1867. This dive site is quite a landmark, featured in National Geographic and BBC. Divers are able to see the dance floor, propeller, and swim the length of this huge ship.  After this short burst of history and exercise, we headed back down to shore and motored back to Cooper. 

A lunch spread of mac and cheese was prepared as we arrived back at Cooper to pick up the students that had been diving all morning.  After lunch, the Open Water students went right back ashore for their first Open Water Dive. The rest of us prepared for the sail to Little Harbor, Peter Island.  We took to wind and practiced downwind sailing. We learned how to change directions of sail with the wind to our stern. This is called jibing. However, it wasn’t too long that we had to strike (quickly take down sails) due to an oncoming squall. While it was a scramble to get it done fast, it was really fun and exciting to operate in those conditions. While underway, the students learned about safety while downwind sailing and how to med anchor. This is when the anchor is dropped at the bow and then a strong line tied around a stable rock or tree trunk. Once our boats were snug,  we could whip off our life jackets and hang them up on the lifelines. Some of our students took the Colgate 26 out for a spin, and then completed their ASA 101 Practical. Later in the evening, as the fiery sun set over Tortola, we enjoyed showers and a meal of chicken stir fry. Before bed, we really pulled together as a crew to begin our deep clean of the boat in preparation for the following day’s cleaning inspection. We ended with a boat meeting. To say the least, it was an amazing day full of hiking, diving and sailing. Just another day in paradise.

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