written by Early Foxtrot & Early Sierra mate, Luka Walshe
June 10, 2017
We begin our day on the docks at Hodges Creek Marina. There is a sleepy excitement in the air as we wake for our 7a.m. breakfast. The sun is already well awake as we wander down to the pool for our induction day meeting with Mike Liese. We pass the Sail Caribbean Divers, already hard at work setting up for the day’s adventures. As we sit down with Mike, the staff and students all gather around, apprehensive for the journey to come. Mike’s words echo in our minds, even now, as we set sail for new harbors; to come together as a community, to practice safe and fun learning, to take care of ourselves and those around us and to push the boundaries of our knowledge and skill, in order to grow as individuals and as a team.
After our introduction to Mike and the Sail Caribbean team, the day kicked into full gear. We visited the dive shop to register for snorkel gear and diving programs, then went back to our boats to learn the prior to first (departure checks) before setting sail. There was a lot of information to take in, but we are confident that we will overcome any obstacle to our success. Once the boats are ready to go, we learn how to de-dock the boats, striking the lines as we motored out of Hodges Creek. Once we hit the channel, we were taught how to raise the main and head-sails, and then, finally, we were underway.
A steady breeze carried us from Hodges Creek to Cooper Island — the sun shone down upon us as our fleet chased the horizon. Cooper Island was a welcome sight; we dropped our sails and picked up our mooring buoys, just off the shore of this tropical paradise.
As soon as we got there, we jumped, dove and summersaulted off of the stern and into the crystal blue water, filled with marine life. We had a swim test and went to shore to meet the Sail Caribbean dive staff, who gave us a comprehensive introduction to diving. After diving, we went snorkeling along the nearby reef, where we saw countless fish and coral communities.
As the sun set across the channel over the hills of Tortola, we headed back to our boats where we made dinner and began our cleaning duties. After boat clean, we had a boat meeting where we talked about our day, got to know each other and discussed the itinerary for day 3. Exhausted from the day’s endeavors, we hit the hay, most of us taking our sleeping bags up on deck to sleep under the watch of the stars. Welcome to paradise.
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.