Written by Anna Sutton, Mate & Social Media Coordinator
Staff eagerly awaited the arrival of our Early program students, preparing the boats and traveling to St Thomas to meet the campers. After a long day of flights, taxis, ferry rides, and customs, Hodges Creek Marina was lively with students at last. Campers met their captains, mates, and the rest of their fellow crew members and settled into their new quarters. The campers were served a hearty meal of grilled chicken, rice, veggies, and coleslaw. After bellies were full, campers had the opportunity to wash off the day with a land shower! Everyone returned to their boats for boat meetings and to get acquainted with their new boat-mates before stringing up hammocks and nestling into cabins, and finding spots to sleep on the deck under the Caribbean sky.
Refreshed from the long travel day before, students arose early in the morning. After getting ready for the day, all campers gathered for a chat with Sail Caribbean founder Mike. Students then returned to their boats for a breakfast buffet of bagels, cream cheese, cereal, oats, fruit, and yogurt. Campers then had time to explore the Sail Caribbean Divers shop and meet the dive staff. Crews received prior to first departure briefings from their captains and mates, learning all about their new home on the water. After getting acquainted with their vessels, the students had a de-docking lesson and the seven boats departed, each led by their skippers of the day. On route to Cooper Island the crews learned how to raise and the main sail! Campers prepared and ate a lunch of sandwiches underway before receiving a lesson on picking up a mooring ball.
All boats arrived at the beautiful Cooper Island, practicing the skills learned in their lesson and picking up the mooring. Campers prepared for scuba diving and went ashore to meet up with the dive staff. Those diving explored the underwater world of shipwrecks! Campers took their swim tests and snorkeled in the crystal blue Cooper Island ocean. Marine animal sightings included sea turtles, tarpon, spotted eagle rays, and more! Crews then returned to their own boats to take their first boat showers and prepare a tasty buddha bowl dinner with quinoa, sweet potato, lettuce, tomato, peppers, and chicken. Students completed their nightly boat clean, each taking responsibility for their vessel. The crew then gathered for a boat meeting and spent the remainder of the evening laughing and chatting; sharing stories and getting to know each other before settling down to prepare for the busy day ahead.