Log Entries

  • 2020 Winter Voyage
Los Haitises

Los Haitises National Park is a special place. We arrived not long after lunch on Friday and split into two groups to explore the shoreline. Cruising next to the large karst formations we spotted pelicans, frigate birds, herons, egrets, ibis, osprey and many other birds. The park is a birders paradise. We were also able to venture up a few mangrove creeks that seemed endless. The scenery of the Dominican Republic is a major contrast from the Bahamian landscape where the trip began.

The following morning, we went ashore to walk through two caves within the park. The students spotted petroglyphs from the Taíno people as we walked through. Back aboard Geronimo everyone jumped in the water for the last ocean swim call of the voyage.

Afterwards, Julia successfully sailed Geronimo off the anchor and put us on course for Puerto Bahia Marina. She then passed the watch to Corinne who sailed Geronimo on to the anchor just off the marina. By the time the deck was cleaned up, Sasha had dinner ready. Most of the crew went to bed not long after.

Early this morning, we hauled back the anchor for the final time to move into the marina. Once secure along the dock, all hands focused on cleaning the boat. We complete a major clean at the end of every voyage and the students energetically worked at this task.

Currently, the students are completing their marine science final exam. This test incorporates chart work, sailing knowledge and ecology material discussed over the voyage. Once everyone has completed their test, we plan to go for a fresh water swim in the marina pool.

Tomorrow is the last full day of the program. With school work complete, we can relax and have a fun day off the boat. The plan is to visit the town of Las Terrenas on the north coast of the Samana Peninsula. 

 

  • 2020 Winter Voyage
Sailing with Whales

We departed the marina in Puerto Plata late Tuesday night bound for Samana Bay. The students have begun the Junior Watch Officer (JWO) phase of the program which requires them to plan our transits and make critical sailing decisions. Jordan, Ben, and Zoella were the first JWOs of their respected watches.

Working west to east along the north coast of the Dominican Republic can be challenging with the dominant easterly trade winds. In the hopes of avoiding the bulk of these contrary winds, the JWOs elected to motor-sail close to the coastline hoping to tuck in behind the headlands. Once we passed Cabo Frances Viejo we were able to head more south allowing us to sail. The next two watches skillfully tacked Geronimo nearly 20 times allowing us to make progress to the east. By 1700 we had reached El Valle where we would take a short rest at anchor and have dinner.

Hoping to arrive at the mouth of Samana Bay at sunrise, Bower, A watch’s JWO, determined that we depart El Valle at midnight to make the final push for Samana. After another four hours of sailing to windward we were finally able to fall off.

 All of this careful sailing and planning paid off as we arrived at the bay just before sunrise, ready to see the numerous humpback whales that winter in the region. Noble spotted the first one breaching off our port side. Over the next three hours we sailed around the entrance and spotted at least 15 whales, including one calf. The experience was a high point of the voyage.

We are currently underway for an anchorage outside of Los Haitises National Park. There we will swim and explore mangrove ecosystems. We plan to spend the night there and most of tomorrow morning.

  • 2020 Winter Voyage
Puerto Plata

Everyone is glad to have arrived in the Dominican Republic. C watch: Sasha, Jordan, Sam and Ms. Armour were on watch for our arrival. Sasha calmly steered Geronimo through the narrow channel and into the marina. Having started the program at anchor in the Bahamas, this is the first time the students handled dock lines and fenders. They did a great job, making for a smooth docking.

After clearing customs, we spent a little time cleaning Geronimo and taking fresh water showers ashore. Around lunchtime we loaded into a van and headed to Puerto Plata. The marina recommended that we have lunch at “Como Familia.” It was a great recommendation, and we stuffed ourselves with traditional Dominican food. Afterwards, we walked around town before heading back to the Marina.

Today we plan to ride the teleferico – a cable car- up to the highest peak in the area. I expect we’ll have a great view of the city and much of the surrounding country from the top. This evening we will likely be underway again continuing to work our way east along the northern coastline.

  • 2020 Winter Voyage
Nearing Our Turn to the South

We are steadily making progress to the east, motor-sailing. Sometime this evening we will turn south and head directly for the Dominican Republic. The students have settled into underway shipboard life and are enjoying this time at sea. A few of them experienced moments of sea sickness yesterday but all have now found their sea legs and are in high spirits.

Since the weather today has been so pleasant, we decided to rig up one of the vessel’s fire hoses as an on deck shower. The students just finished rinsing off and are drying on deck in the sun. A watch: Bower, Julia, Ben and I, will take the deck at 1600 and are also responsible for cooking dinner. B watch: Noble, Zoella, Corinne and Mr. Siddons will relieve us at 1800 and are responsible for dinner clean up. These chores rotate from watch to watch each day.

As we head south for the D.R. I hope to pass fairly close to Silver Bank. There’s a chance that we’ll spot the first whale of the voyage near there. Humpback whales are common around these banks in January and February.

Based on our current speed and progress I still expect us to arrive to Puerto Plata Monday or early Tuesday.