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 in 2017-18 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.
Yesterday was a full day. It started by moving Geronimo from our anchorage to the Liberty Landing Marina. Here, we were met by Maddie’s Dad who brought the crew 2 dozen bagels! The 11 of us ate every one of them before leaving the boat for Manhattan. Once on the other side of the Hudson River, we boarded the subway to go to the Museum of Natural History. Afterwards, we had some traditional NYC pizza before hanging out in Central Park. To help digest all this food we walked the length of the park, and then some, to get to Times Square. After everyone had their fill of people watching we took the water taxi back to Jersey City and Geronimo.
This morning after breakfast, which Katie prepared, we bid NYC adieu. Maia was in charge of our departure and piloted us around the lower end of Manhattan and ultimately into Long Island Sound. At the moment, we are roughly ¾ of the way across the Sound and have a wonderful southerly breeze. Tomorrow we plan to arrive at our next port, Nantucket.
We have begun the junior watch officer (JWO) phase of the voyage. This means that one student is essentially in charge of the boat and all our routines for the duration of their watch. This is both a highly rewarding and often stressful situation for the student crew. Evan was the first to kick things off working with B watch to sail Geronimo to the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. Next was Liam who had the challenge of negotiating a narrowing waterway during his watch. Lastly, on A watch, Kasamba was selected to be our first JWO. She had the task of bringing Geronimo through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. All of them did very well and have set the bar high for the next round of JWOs.
We are now working down the Delaware Bay. By dinner we should be back out in the Atlantic. The forecast looks favorable for a great night of sailing up to Ambrose Channel and New York harbor. Now that we are north of Cape Hatteras the temperature during the day and especially at night has dropped significantly. Many have even started to complain about it being cold on deck at night though I think most on board are enjoying a break from the heat.
The students have had their first taste of sailing to weather. Around 4 am Saturday morning the wind backed around to the NE and built in strength to a brisk 15-20 kts. Thanks to reliable weather forecasting, we expected this shift and were ready for it. C watch, Liam and Maddie, were on watch as the wind shifted and handled these new conditions really well. Liam even made chocolate chip muffins while on watch in a bumpy galley. The students adjusted to upwind sailing quickly and no one was very seasick.
After about 24hrs of tacking back and forth up the Chesapeake Bay we arrived in Annapolis. To cap off our longest transit to date we sailed onto the hook right at the entrance to Annapolis harbor. Evan was on the helm, Maia on the main halyard and Maddie on the anchor. This exercise really demonstrated how far the students have come in two weeks.
Tomorrow morning we will spend some time in Annapolis before getting underway for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Our next destination will likely be New York City.
Geronimo has just rounded Cape Hatteras. This event always feels like a navigational milestone. Now around the cape, we are able to turn slightly to the west aiding in our overall progress north.
B watch is currently on watch and is also in charge of preparing dinner. After their watch, they will have 6 hours off before returning to deck for the twelve to four watch. Despite being in the middle of the night, this watch time is often the student’s favorite. With everyone else asleep the boat is quiet. It’s also the perfect time to star gaze. Lately, the moon has been rising during this watch and has been glowing bright orange in color.
Late tomorrow morning I hope to arrive at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. From here, we will continue inland likely making a quick stop in Annapolis, MD.
Happy Fourth of July from the crew of Geronimo!
The waves at the beach were lots of fun to swim in today and everyone enjoyed getting tossed around in the surf. For dinner, we had the fish we caught on the trip here which Evan made into fish tacos. To cap off the day we watched fireworks from the boat and celebrated with sparklers.
We will get underway very early tomorrow morning for the Chesapeake Bay.
In a little over 24 hours we traveled from Charleston, SC to Wrightsville Beach, NC. The students are starting to get the hang of watch standing and shipboard routines while underway. During this transit, we were visited by dolphins on a couple of occasions and caught three king mackerel along the way. Luke hauled in the biggest of the three.
This morning we had a great sailing breeze and made good time toward our destination. We took in the sails just outside the inlet and made ready to come alongside. Maia did a superb job steering Geronimo through a very narrow and congested waterway to get us to the dock. Tonight after dinner we will walk to a rec. center to play some games and if time allows, explore town a little bit too.
Geronimo’s crew has been having a great time here in Charleston. Yesterday we visited the Charleston Aquarium before walking into town. After a couple hours of exploring, we came back to Geronimo to have dinner before heading to a park for a quick game of soccer.
Being Sunday, this morning started with an extra half hour of chores. Next, the students worked in their watches to plan our voyage to Wrightsville Beach, NC. Kasamaba and John have especially taken to the navigation material. For lunch we went out for BBQ to celebrate Katie’s birthday. We will be underway on her actual birthday tomorrow so we wanted to do something special here first. On the way back to the boat we purchased a few more provisions for the next week. To wrap up the day we had our first Sunday dinner together. For this meal everyone dresses in something a little nicer than our normal boat attire. Maia made Mexican inspired chicken that we enjoyed while eating on deck. The crew has come together this first week. Meals are lively and everyone is becoming more comfortable with each other.
At the moment we are 15 nm away from the entrance of Charleston Harbor. The students have experienced their first taste of sailing through the night. Every watch, during their 4 hour shift, had different sailing conditions. B watch, comprised of Katie, Evan and John, arguably had the most challenging conditions. With a steady 15 kt breeze on the quarter, the three of them had to quickly master sailing with following seas and wind. Unfortunately, during the high heat of the day the wind has been dying out, requiring us to motor. This also makes the boat warmer down below. Luckily, there are a few shady spots on deck to cool off in.
In Charleston we will be rafting up to the Spirit of South Carolina, another sailing school vessel. Though they do not currently have students on board, it will still be fun to compare vessels. We will likely spend a few days in Charleston. Hopefully, the wind will build over the next few days providing us a good opportunity to continue our progress north.
Once fueling was complete we made ready to leave the marina. Maddie was on the helm and steered us all the way from the dock, underneath the Sidney Lanier Bridge and onto the anchor. The remainder of the morning was spent discussing safety procedures and line handling. Hoping to escape the heat, we decided to depart Brunswick and head out to the Atlantic ocean. On our way out we bent on the jib and set the mainsail for the first time this trip. Once complete, the students were divided into two watches and we turned south for Cumberland Island. Evan steered Geronimo from the entrance of the St. Mary’s River to our anchorage tucked behind the island. Katie and Maddie, with the help of Mr. Kane, let go the anchor.
The majority of today was spent ashore. Cumberland Island is a personal favorite stop of mine. The island is only accessible by boat and the southern end is operated by the national parks service. Students were able to explore on their own and saw wild horses, armadillos, raccoons and hundreds of fiddler crabs. After lunch aboard Geronimo we returned to shore and went for a swim at the beach.
This evening we had a class about compass correction and chart basics. This was in preparation for our sail to Charleston, roughly 150 nm away. The forecast looks good for a pleasant and fairly quick sail.
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