Written by Tess Avery
Edited by Meredith Evridge
On the last full day of the Earlies program, a bittersweet feeling of the final moments was felt by all…but we still had a full day of adventure ahead of us! As just a sliver of the morning sun was peeking over the horizon, the staff rose on our earliest morning thus far on program. Each boat was piloted over to our morning destination. As we arrived at the Baths on Virgin Gorda, the students were slowly waking from their slumber to the scent of oatmeal, bagels, and other leftover breakfast food found in their galley. As the towering boulders of the Baths came into view, a hush fell over the boats. The awe of this beautiful place, unlike anything the fleet had seen before, was palpable as the boats moored near the small beach. After an energizing breakfast on the mooring ball, everyone was ready to learn why the Baths have been voted one of the most beautiful beaches.
The Baths are a stunning geological wonder with a rich history. After swimming ashore, students learned the historical significance, interesting geology, and surprising formation of this famous place. The group then embarked on a hikle; a Sail Caribbean-original word meaning a hike and snorkel. After a stunning trek through the towering boulders and caves, we emerged in Devil’s Bay on the other side of the island to a breathtaking view. Crystal blue water, white sandy beaches, and an underwater paradise greeted our eyes. We snorkeled back around the island, checking out the reef communities on the way. We ended up at the notorious Jump Rock, a rock about fifteen feet from the water, that for some students was the highlight of the day. After jumping into the welcoming water, we headed back to boats to prepare lunch and depart for our final destination.
Today’s sail was sentimental as this would be the last time we eased, trimmed, pulled up the sail, and moored for this two weeks. There were good vibes on the boats as we were out in the open ocean. Trellis Bay on Tortola came into view.
While moored in Trellis, each boat partook in a deep clean of the boats before they were to be returned.
Once the galley was spotless and the helm was polished, the students partook in their final boat showers of the program. These boat showers are the highlight of most days, with happy music and smiles all around. The fleet was all moored fairly near each other, and as the sun set on a day of lasts, all to be heard was laughter and music in the mooring field.
For dinner, students departed from the comfort of their own boats and made their way to shore to partake in the traditional Sail Caribbean fireball party. Set at the artsy and intricate Aragorn art studio, the night was complete with delicious ribs, mac and cheese, and steamed vegetables. To add some fun to the evening, each boat performed a skit that in some way highlighted their personality as a crew. With many laughs as well as sentimental moments from the skits, the students enjoyed seeing how close all of the boats have become over the past two weeks. As the cast iron fireball was lit, the students received boat awards from the Olympics and Chili Cook -Off, followed by a stunning fire performance from a staff member. We gave a shout out to the twenty students who completed their Open Water, the nine with their Advanced Open Water, our single Rescue diver, the five who passed ASA 101, and the one who passed ASA 103!
Gathering around the ball of flame, all enjoyed music and the feeling of community before slowly heading back to boats for the last sleep. The fireball, reduced to a few sparks, was ephemeral but the memories made here at Sail Caribbean will be taken home and treasured forever. A boat meeting with each boat family ensued, sharing final thoughts on the program overall. The students packed up, wrote letters for the airplane ride home, and caught some Z’s before their early morning departure.
Before the sun, students woke up bright and early, fully packed and prepared for departure. After hugs and tearful goodbyes, they departed for the airport with a danish in hand. Thanks everyone for a successful and memorable Earlies program!