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Follow Our Journey! Staff Training B

By Vada H June 21, 2024

By Vada Harpool, Social Media

From Spain to Maine, a mix of vet and new staff arrived at the BVI enthusiastically and excited to start training for a Sail Caribbean summer! Staff were greeted with a barbecue of burgers and hot dogs and welcomed aboard Le Grand Bleu and Tonga. Over the next week and a half, our leadership guided staff through lessons and scenarios to help prepare for the summer to come!

The next morning each boat cooked up a nice breakfast buffet with yogurt, cereal, bagels, and lots of fruit! Next, each boat de-docked from our homebase Hodges, and set sail for The Bight on Norman Island! During our first mooring ball pick-up, one of our staff members, Durf, saw a turtle and flying fish! While underway, staff learned the basics of raising sail and important sailing terms.

Upon arrival, everyone took their first swim in the beautiful BVI water. Afterwards, all of STB went ashore to Norman for some lessons and a Sail Caribbean classic: the Helipad Hike! With the incredible views from the top of the hike, the staff played some fun team-building and bonding games! Everyone went back to boats for burrito bowls and boat meeting!

Staff member Anna was the skipper of the day for our next sail to Great Harbor. At Great Harbor, staff learned about anchoring, got more mooring practice, and attended a snorkel lesson led by vet staff, Morgan and Kelly!

The following day, our skipper of the day, Sadie, took us to our next destination Nanny Cay! Our staff took turns sailing colgates, learning knots, and getting dinghy certified!! Also, staff learned the importance of communicating and problem solving during docking at Nanny Cay. Staff deep cleaned the boats, then Le Grand Bleu and Tonga had staff meeting and a dinner party with fairy lights on the bow of Tonga!

At Nanny Cay, staff broke off into groups and did more docking practice and lessons on mental health awareness and ways to successfully support students and fellow staff members this summer! Then free time to explore the beautiful Nanny Cay!!

Our next stop was Marina Cay where we did more practice picking up the mooring ball along with lots of swimming. Then staff had a meeting on shore to learn about what to expect when the program begins. This was the first time most of the staff had been on this island, and this was celebrated with half an hour of exploration and relaxation time. Then we cooked up some delicious food and held a staff meeting to debrief the events of the day and discuss the schedule for the next day.

The next day was Challenge Day, a Sail Caribbean staple where the new staff members took over the boat without the assistance of the returners. We dropped the ball at Marina Cay, and sailed out and about for some time before pulling into beautiful White Bay on Guana. We picked up a mooring ball, practiced good problem solving skills, and then went on a wonderful snorkel in which staff saw rays and a baby octopus! Then we held staff meeting, and made a raft of the outboards to view the sunset from behind Guana Island! Dinner was delicious and we settled in for the night with games and a little bit of rain.

At White Bay, some surprise safety drills were conducted to equip us with the skills needed to handle any incidents, big or small, that may occur this summer. These drills also provided an opportunity to build connections with our local first responders from VISAR.

After a delicious breakfast the next morning, new staff got to learn more on how to sail the Colgates and returning staff practiced one engine mooring ball pick-ups. We sailed to a new place for Sail Caribbean: Bluff Bay! It was a blast exploring the new location and enjoying the incredible views. Many staff members went snorkeling and even saw an eagle ray! After a tasty dinner, staff had a quiet night on board for some good resting time.

Today, we sailed to Cooper Island where our dive instructors and Sail Caribbean Divers led a scuba diving lesson for staff!
Being just one day away from the program, everyone is extremely excited to welcome students on this amazing journey!

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.