Geronimo is a voyage of self-discovery. Student crew members discover the joys and challenges of life aboard a 69-foot cutter as they sail along one leg of a tour that will take the boat along the eastern coast of the U.S., from Rhode Island to the Bahamas and back. As they live, learn and explore together, classmates discover what it truly means to be a crew.
A handful of students took their final chemistry exam in the morning while we sailed over to Harbour Island under jib alone. We all went ashore to explore, eating lunch out and finding ice cream before heading out to the amazing pink(ish) sand beach to play in the waves and relax. The students are almost all done with their schoolwork and after returning to the boat we had the exam review for marine science. Miles was again cook, having traded with Ryan - and made steak and vegetable stir-fry with rice.
There is a really nice bakery on Harbour Island called Arthur's, but it is closed this time of year as tourism slows down. We weren't able to make an early morning visit, but Maisie made scones for breakfast that were just as good. After breakfast we rolled into "chase the buoy," where each student crew member retrieves a buoy over the side completely under sail. With a single reef in the main and staysail set, we kicked off this exercise. Ethan was the first to go and set a great precedent, followed by Hank who ended up recording one of the fastest times. Brady also did a great job bringing Geronimo to a complete stop right next to the buoy, and Ben ended up with the second fastest time of 3:05. Ryan went next and was fast - his 2:38 was the fastest time of the day. Maisie, Will and Miles rounded out the even and all did sub-four minute times, which was quite impressive. Overall, the mates and I were really impressed how well the crew demonstrated their proficiency in sailing Geronimo. This afternoon a group went out to see this narrow isthmus where waves from the Atlantic side of Eleuthera crash over a ledge and onto the bank side - it is called the Glass Window. A quiet night of studying is on the agenda for tonight as our marine science final exam is tomorrow. Plan is to tag turtles in the morning and then depart Harbour Island and start making our way to New Providence tomorrow afternoon.
Last night when I was out collecting plankton for Dr. Matarese's marine biology course, I noticed that the bioluminescence was quite good in Royal Island harbor. We turned all the lights out and watched Ben, Ryan, Hank and Miles jump into the water, their every move recorded by a glowing trail.
With Brady at the helm, Miles did an impressive job as JWO sailing us off the anchor and out of the narrow harbor entrance, then continuing on to a temporary anchorage off of Meek's Patch. Here we fed a few swimming pigs and saw, strangely enough, two turkeys. Both put here but locals. Brady was JWO sailing us off the anchor and on toward Spanish Wells, where we had our harbor pilot, Woody, come on board and take us through the treacherous Devil's Backbone and to our anchorage off of Man Island.
In honor of the holiday, we had Halloween games - which turned out to be not exactly what you might think. Ben barely beat Miles in a climbing contest, Brady beat Ryan in rock-paper-scissors, Ethan edged out Hank in the bucket filling contest, and Will narrowly defeated Maisie in the fast bowline event. A swimming relay and tug-of-war rounded out the games, with starboard watch (Will, Brady, Ben and Hank) winning. Students are quietly studying and when I just asked Miles what he is making for dinner he said "a little bit of everything, actually." Being Halloween, no doubt that candy and scary stories will follow dinner.
Monday morning the mates made a run into Spanish Wells to retrieve our trusty 19' Boston Whaler Liquid Hoss, while the rest of us stayed on board for a quiz. Hank sailed us over to Egg Island under jib alone to our anchorage in the lee of the island. We soon loaded up Hoss and made a trip to snorkel on the wreck of the Arimora, a freighter that went aground in 1970. You can still see the engine, the anchor windlass and much of the structure - along with big fish and lots of coral. We then zoomed over to the west end of Royal Island to the beach. Back on board we had study hall and bananagrams. Ben made homemade rolls and sausage for dinner.
Hank made eggs-in-a-basket aka toad-in-a-hole aka eggs-in-a-hole aka chicken-in-a-raft aka one-eyed-pirates for breakfast. Ben sailed us off the anchor and, with Will at the helm, did a great job sailing us through the narrow cut into Royal Island Harbor to drop the hook under sail. Mangrove class in the mangroves followed by turtle-tagging and swimming rounded out the day. Hank dazzled us with homemade bread that turned into stromboli for dinner. The crew is a little distracted, but are easing into study hall as I write this.
Yesterday we had a class on coral reef ecology, and then gathered snorkel gear to explore an amazing reef at Pelican Cay Land & Sea Park. It really is one of the best accessible snorkeling reefs in The Bahamas. We saw lots of fish, healthy elkhorn corals and even a shark or two. We rounded out the rest of the day at anchor near Lynyard Cay, where Ben and Miles found a crab and a few lobsters to supplement Will's burrito bowl dinner.
After we all devoured Brady's coffee cake for breakfast, Ryan sailed us off the anchor and out of the cut on our way to North Eleuthera. Maisie had the second watch and then handed off to Will who tacked our way into the anchorage off of St. George's Cay, Spanish Wells.
Monday morning we loaded up two rental cars for a day exploring Great Abaco (right after Hank loaded us all up with breakfast burritos). Our first stop was Sawmill Sink, an amazing blue hole in the middle of the pine forest. We swam in the silky-smooth freshwater lens on top of this 100'+ blue hole that is connected to the ocean. After a picnic lunch, we continued on to Marsh Harbour, making a stop with a great view of the Atlantic and expeditiously dealing with a flat tire. Our final stop of the day was to the another blue hole near Treasure Cay.
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