July 10, 2016
Everyone awoke to the beautiful colors of Soper’s Hole off of Tortola. Our day started as normal, with the crews going about their chores and getting breakfast prepared when it was pleasantly interrupted by a sighting of dolphins! It was a beautiful brief glimpse but it was amazing nonetheless and put everyone in an amazing mood to start the day.
We then left Soper’s Hole and sailed to Diamond Cay off of Jost Van Dyke. Just before we turned into Diamond Cay, we passed by Sandy Cay, a small sandy island (one of our campers’ favorites!) where parts of Pirates of the Caribbean were actually filmed!
When we got to Diamond Cay, both boats did a SILENT mooring ball pick up to test our skills and demonstrate what we have learned. The crews did an amazing job and all the captains and mates were blown away. The crews have learned and grown so much over the past couple weeks and never has it been more apparent then during the silent mooring ball pickup.
Afterwards, lunch was made and then we went to shore to do a short hike on Jost Van Dyke and a lesson about sea grass. We call it the bubbly pool hike because it concludes at a little tide pool alcove where the waves come over the rocks and fill the pools with bubbles. When we reached the tide pools, everyone cooled their feet and then scrambled around on the rocks exploring and taking in the beautiful views. The highlight of the tide pools was playing with little snails and seeing cute baby Sergeant Major fish no bigger than half dollars.
We returned to our boats and began turtling in the sea grass beds around our boats. The first shift of turtling went slowly until the very end when a student caught a 72 cm turtle! It was huge and far and away the biggest one we’ve caught so far! It had been tagged before so we were able to gather data about how much it had grown and add another tag where one wasn’t present. It was a great learning opportunity to show how catching turtles that have been previously tagged is important. Our day concluded with boat meeting where we celebrated everything we had done today and wrote our letters to self. It was an exciting day and everyone got a chance to demonstrate what they have learned so far and how much they have grown.
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.