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.
Tuesday morning we sailed off the anchor and had a lively and speedy sail back west toward Puerto Rico on the heels of a frontal passage. Just after lunch we sailed up to the anchor on an island just a few miles from our marina. Our last night at anchor, we had the anchorage all to ourselves and enjoyed a peaceful, starry night.
Yesterday morning we departed at dawn for Puerto del Rey Marina. Once alongside we commenced Field Day - which is our end-of-the-trip thorough cleaning of Geronimo. The crew did a great job and we spent the balance of the afternoon enjoying showers and getting in touch with home, before heading out to our last dinner together.
Our last evening in the Francis Bay anchorage in St. John. U.S.V.I. was a peaceful one. The next morning, Truckie sailed us off the mooring and navigated us through the Narrows and through Current Hole - bucking 3+ knots of current both ways - on our way to Culebra. The wind gave out about halfway there during Janna's watch - but then filled back in enough for Hannah to sail us in to Ensenada Honda and up to the anchor.
This morning we had our last Marine Science class on mangrove ecosystems - while tied up in the mangroves in Thunderchief (our inflatable boat). After class, ashore to explore and find lunch - then off to Flamenco Beach for body-surfing and enjoying this spectacular beach. Back on board. Dinner - chicken, green beans and asparagus - is just about ready.
At dawn on Thursday morning we sailed over to Princess Bay under jib alone and picked up a mooring for the day. Caroline Rogers, a marine ecologist and daughter of former faculty member Robin Rogers, met up with us in the morning to tell us about her research in Virgin Islands National Park. She then took us snorkeling to show us the unique coral communities on the edges of mangroves in the Hurricane Hole area. The students really enjoyed the opportunity to see this amazing area. At the end of the day, Eric sailed us off the mooring and up to an anchorage just a few miles away in Round Bay just as the sun was setting.
Yesterday, Charlotte did an outstanding job as JWO sailing us out of Round Bay and around the east side of St. John. She then handed over to Elise, who gybed us down Sir Francis Drake Channel and sailed us up to the mooring perfectly in Leinster Bay. We had a relaxing afternoon swimming and exploring ashore.
This morning, Hull did a fine job sailing us off the mooring in Leinster, down through the Narrows and into Francis Bay before the wind disappeared and, with engine assist, brought us up to the mooring. Ashore to explore the island - a vigorous climb to the top of the island, then we picked up a bus to have Coral Harbor where we had lunch (and saw donkeys). We picked up the bus back to Cruz Bay, then on to Cinnamon Bay for swimming in the turquoise-blue Caribbean before heading back to Geronimo for the evening.
Elise skillfully sailed us out of the anchorage at Salt Island, on our way just a short distance to Peter Island - where she handed over the reigns and Hull did a fine job sailing us up to the anchor in Little Harbour,. An amazing sunset of Sir Francis Drake Channel and some equally amazing star gazing last night rounded on the evening.
This morning Truckie was the JWO in a very light breeze, but patiently sailed us out of our anchorage and halfway to Cruz Bay, St. John before giving the watch over to Janna who sailed us up to the anchor off Cruz Bay, St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We went ashore to clear in with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and explore Cruz Bay. Ice cream and smoothies were highly sought after.
Armed with the confidence of a college acceptance, Shivam did a great job sailing us out of the anchorage and tacking toward Coral Bay on the southeast side of St. John. Hannah came on to lead starboard watch as we sailed into the anchorage with a few distractions - namely a helicopter landing on the bow of a large yacht with a drone flying overhead to film the event. With the last of the breeze, we glided up to the anchor just as dinner was put on the table (chicken, mac and cheese and salad courtesy of Elise and Flash).
This marked the first time Geronimo has been back in the U.S.A. since departing in June 2015 for our 2-year Transatlantic Voyage. She is happy to be back and is looking forward to a return to Rhode Island in May.
From Gorda Sound our plan was to continue west. Janna sailed us off the anchor and out through the channel from the sound - and did a great job in challenging conditions. After gybing over and getting us on course to Great Dog – she handed over to Truckie. He brought us into the anchorage on the south end of the island and confidently sailed us up to the anchor. We spent the afternoon snorkeling and then relaxing and studying back on board. At sunset, we set sail for an anchorage about 4 n.m. to the west. Hannah did a fine job as JWO, under challenging conditions sailing us off the anchor – as did Shivam sailing us up to the anchor in the dark.
Yesterday morning we awoke early and made our way to The Baths – a beautiful area on the south end of Virgin Gorda with large boulder-formed caves and sandy pocket beaches. We spent the morning exploring – then Charlotte patiently sailed us off the mooring and slowly on to Salt Island – just about 6 nautical miles to our west. After lunch, she handed over the watch to Eric who persistently and carefully tacked our way to the anchorage at Salt Island – gliding up to the anchor under sail. The afternoon was spent swimming and we had a peaceful evening at anchor.
This morning, after a class on coral reefs, most students went out to snorkel on a reef and the wreck of the HMS Rhone. Everyone is ashore now checking out the salt pond and resulting salt formations on the island. Plan is to get underway in a few minutes.
We awoke in Little Bay, Montserrat and spent the morning preparing to get underway and putting in some study time. With the mainsail set and the anchor hauled back we glided out of Montserrat in a light ESE’ly breeze. By the time we had passed by the island of Redonda we were moving at a good clip on a nice broad reach. Past Nevis and St. Kitt’s - just at about midnight we passed Saba. The near-full moon bathed the deck in bright light. This was our crew’s first sail through the night and the conditions were ideal. By dawn we were under 50 nautical miles to Virgin Gorda – but we weren’t able to see land until close to lunch time. Eric and Charlotte were in watch as we sailed into the anchorage in North Sound Virgin Gorda – ghosting up to our anchorage in the lee of Prickly Pear Island.
This morning we cleared Customs and Immigration for the British Virgin Islands – and then commenced the JWO (Junior Watch Officer) phase of our trip. Hull was the first up, and he did a fine job tucking a reef in the main and sailing us off the anchor. On our way to the next anchorage we had a Port vs. Starboard Watch race, of sorts. Each watch completed a course as fast as they could. It was close, but Port Watch (Eric, Elise, Truckie and Hannah) were victorious. Elise then took over as JWO and did an excellent job sailing us up to the anchor just off the Bitter End Yacht Club. Janna put out chicken Caesar salad for lunch - followed by a swim call and a much-welcomed fresh water rinse. Ashore to explore and dinner out rounded out a full day.
Geronimo sailed into the anchorage at Little Bay on Montserrat at 2100. Eric was at the helm for the last leg, and executed several tacks as we glided into the anchorage in the lee of the island. The next morning started off with french toast for breakfast, courtesy of Elise - and the balance of the morning was devoted to study hall. Burritos for lunch, followed by a tour of the island. Our first stop was to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory for some spectacular views of the volcano. Our guide, Joe, then brought us through the former exclusion zone and to a remarkable overlook of Plymouth - the town that was devastated by the pyroclastic flows from the volcano - and now stands mostly buried and unoccupied. Back on board for a swim call and dinner, capped off by Janna's much-anticipated birthday cake.
Hull made chocolate chip pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast, with the help of Truckie. Our plan is to depart toward the British Virgin Islands by lunch, it should take us about 24 hours or so. The crew is looking forward to our first overnight sail and first experience with downwind sailing.
We spent Sunday evening ashore at a restaurant called Salt Plage – where we had much-anticipated access to internet and watched the Superbowl. The next morning we set sail for Nevis – an island just a few miles south of St. Kitt’s. Truckie was at the helm as we sailed off the hook. We anchored in the lee of Nevis, just north of Charlestown. After class, we went ashore to explore. We found ice cream, of course, and also some local produce. Before heading back to Geronimo, we relaxed on the beach. Back on board Shivam made bagel pizzas and salad for dinner.
This morning we woke up early and went ashore to hike to the top of Nevis. It took two hours climbing steeply in the amazingly beautiful oceanic rainforest – but we made it to the top. Hull organized our departure and Elise was at the helm as we sailed off the anchor. We are now about 7 nautical miles away from Montserrat, and it is looming large on our port bow. Janna is making chili for dinner. Today is her birthday, but we have decided to postpone the celebration until tomorrow - when the conditions are more amendable to baking.
In the morning, Hannah took the helm as we sailed off the hook and gybed over to our course. We performed drills in the lee of the island and then fell off toward St. Kitt’s and Statia. The sea direction would create a rather rolly anchorage in Statia – so we continued on to St. Kitt’s directly – rounding the northwest edge of the island in the early afternoon. We cleared in with Customs and then continued south to our anchorage at White House Bay on the southern arm of the island - sailing up to the anchor with Shivam at the helm several hours after dark.
Yesterday we had study hall in the morning, then went ashore to explore the island. We first drove to the scenic and remarkable fortress – Brimstone Hill. Other highlights include seeing the black rocks of a recent lava flow, seeing monkeys, exploring Basse-Terre and swimming at a near-perfect beach. Back on board, Eric and Shivam put together dinner, Janna made cookie dough and we had a quiet night on board.
Hannah and Elise started our late-wake-up day off with breakfast. Our plan today is to stay anchored in White House Bay – have marine science class, go snorkeling, swimming and then watching the Superbowl or finding wifi ashore.
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