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.
Dallas was the cook today and started us off with breakfast sandwiches. Waiting for the tide to come up, we had class in preparation for our day of turtle tagging. Mid-morning we loaded up our boats and departed for the Cormorant Cay area. We had a successful morning, with each boat capturing three turtles each. Matt was the first one on Thunderchief and Grace caught the first one on Liquid Hoss. By the end of the day, everyone got their hands on a turtle and the students became quite good at capturing, measuring, tagging, weighing and releasing. The final count for the end of the day was 13 Green Sea Turtles. Not bad for our first day. The population in this area seems to have grown considerably since our last visit. All of our data gets sent to our longtime collaborator the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at the University of Florida. Back on board, we had chicken, couscous, brussel sprouts and vegetables for dinner.
This morning we started off the day with a Marine Science quiz. It was quick, hopefully painless, and we set sail soon after. Dallas was at the helm as we sailed out of the anchorage at Man-O-War Cay and on toward Elbow Cay. The rest of port watch, Caroline, Cheka and Matt executed a few tacks and navigated us to our anchorage near Elbow Cay. They all did a great job.
We loaded up the boat and headed in for Elbow Cay. Our first stop was to the Elbow Reef Lighthouse - any amazing view atop the only hand-cranked, kerosene burning lighthouse in the world. Next we ventured into Hope Town and the crew explored, had lunch, ice cream and stretched their legs. On the way back to Geronimo we spotted a manatee.
Back on board we set sail toward the south end of Lubber's Bank. Lizzy steered us out for the first leg of the trip, then was relieved by Alex for the second leg. Grace H., Grace C. and Ben were also on watch and helped to execute seven tacks on our way through a tight passage. We anchored up, cleaned up the deck and jumped in the turquoise water for a much-welcomed swim call. Cheka made a delicious spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread dinner. Ben ate what can only be described as a massive helping of pasta and Lizzy and Grace C. just put brownies in the oven. The smell like they might be just about done.
Plan is to spend tomorrow turtle-tagging and at one of our green sea turtle study sites.
Many thanks to Captain Hughes, I was able to rejoin the ship yesterday after a few days of rest. The crew had a good day on Great Abaco, visiting a blue hole and going for a freshwater swim. Back on board for study hall followed by a brief sandbar exploration on our 19' Boston Whaler "Liquid Hoss." It was a beautiful starry night and Alex, Matt, Ben and I slept out under the stars.
This morning, Alex made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. After Marine Science class we were underway for points east. We tacked our way in the Sea of Abaco all the way to Fowl Cay Preserve, where we dropped the anchor and went out to snorkel on the reef and go ashore on this uninhabited sandy island. We returned to Geronimo and sailed off the anchor a few miles to our overnight anchorage off of Man-O-War Cay. Grace C. was at the helm the entire way and did a fine job, while Grace H. and Lizzy navigated, Ben handled the jib sheet and Alex started cooking burgers and mashed potatoes for dinner. It was a full day and we are about to sit down for dinner.
Saturday morning we woke up to grey skies and strong easterly winds. With this in mind, we had a slightly later breakfast and a study hall to start our day. Afterwards, the mates taught a class on reefing sail before tucking a single reef into the mainsail. Grace H. was on the helm for our departure and mindfully kept us from accidentally gybing as we departed Spanish Cay for Green Turtle Cay. Starboard watch took the deck for the remainder of the 15 nm sail. With the breezy conditions we made great time, maintaining above 8kts, scooting along the east coast of Great Abaco Island. This passage was also the first opportunity for the students to get a taste of upwind sailing and living life on an angle.
In the evening, we traveled ashore to Old Plymouth to explore and have some ice cream. Old Plymouth being a small community, our 12 person crew was quickly noticed and many residents stopped and asked us questions about our vessel and program. This quickly led to the students starting a game of tag and basketball with the kids from town.
This morning we woke at 6:30 to sail for Treasure Cay. Now it was Port watch's turn to navigate and sail us to our next destination. After an hour and a half of short tacking we finally cleared Whale Cay and were able to fall off for Treasure Cay. With ease, Matt steered us through a very narrow channel and right up to the mooring ball where we would spend the night. Once secure, most on board turned to cleaning up the boat. Meanwhile, Grace C. cooked a fantastic lunch of ribs, pasta and salad. Afterwards, the crew went ashore to the beach and enjoyed the improving weather. Tonight we will go to the marina restaurant to watch the Super Bowl.
After overcoming a couple of hiccups, weather and flu related, I am very pleased to report that Geronimo and her crew are in the Bahamas. It is a treat for me to escape Rhode Island winter and join the vessel and her crew for this passage. Upon arrival to the boat yesterday, I found the students eager to help in any way and looking forward to saying goodbye to Florida. After a dinner of chicken, veggies, and quinoa, cooked by Grace H. all hands turned to making the boat ready for our transit. Lizzy helped Ms. Finkel with the anchor while everyone else set the mainsail. Dallas calmly steered us through a crowded mooring field and back out into the Atlantic. Under a full moon, we had a pleasant motor sail across the gulf stream. In the early hours of the morning, C watch brought us onto Little Bahamas Bank and into shallower waters. As students woke up throughout the morning all commented on how clear the water was and how well you could see the bottom. Something I never get comfortable with. At present, we are roughly 20nm from our intended anchorage for the night. There, we will have dinner and catch up on sleep lost during the passage. Tomorrow we plan to clear into the Bahamas, go for our first swim off the boat, and if the wind allows, practice tacking.
In the late evening hours, with the wind building out of the north we sailed into the entrance at Lake Worth Inlet. Ben was at the helm, and did a great job under challenging conditions as we sailed up to the anchor inside Lake Worth just after midnight.
Yesterday was a good day to be at anchor. The wind was gusting up to 30+ knots and it brought some cold temperatures. After a late wake up, we had Marine Science class and got settled into our schoolwork. Ben was cook for the day and started us off with eggs, bacon and bagels, followed by cheeseburgers, potatoes and green beans for dinner.
With plans to depart Thursday for The Bahamas, we decided to take this opportunity to explore ashore. Lizzy started off her day as cook with pancakes, sausage and fruit salad. Before lunch we loaded up in rental cars off to our first stop to see manatees and then to the beach.
Our next stop was to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center to learn about sea turtles conservation in preparation for our sea turtle research in The Bahamas.
Early this morning I woke up to check the updated forecast and buoy reports, but the southerly wind persisted - so the crew got to enjoy a few more hours of rest. At 0600 we turned-to and got underway for points south. Matt was at the helm bringing us off the dock. We paused in the turning basin to set the mainsail and made our way out of the channel.
A-Watch was on first (Dallas, Lizzy, Matt and me), followed by B-Watch (Grace C, Alex, Caroline and Ms. Finkel) from 0800-1200 and C-Watch (Grace H., Ben, Cheka and Ms. Juber) from 1200-1600. Over the course of the day the crew became more comfortable on board with their on-watch responsibilities and living on board underway.
The frontal boundary moved through faster than I hoped bringing with it some unfavorable offshore conditions. This thwarted our plans to sail across to The Bahamas, so we are bound for Lake Worth Inlet about 100 nautical miles south of Port Canaveral. Looks like we will have good window to sail east later in the week. Lizzy and Dallas put together tortellini, meat sauce and salad for dinner. We are about and hour or so away from the entrance and sailing along nicely on a broad reach under a single-reefed mainsail and full jib.
All of the crew were on board by late afternoon, and the remainder of the day was spent taking care of some final shipboard details, moving into bunks, a team-effort burrito dinner followed by an evening gathering to discuss living on board. Everyone was tired from a long day of traveling and went to bed early.
This morning we woke up at 0650 and moved the boat to the fuel dock, did our morning chores, had breakfast and then moved into our safety orientation. After lunch we spent a few hours loading on provisions for our trip. In the late afternoon we went out for a sail and continued our on board orientation. Caroline was at the helm passing close by to a large cruise ship and Ben was at the helm as we came alongside the dock. Dallas, assisted by Grace C., was the cook today and set the bar high making fried chicken tenders, homemade mac and cheese and a salad for dinner.
Showers and phone time tonight before an early departure for points south tomorrow. Our plan is to get underway and if the sea state and wind cooperate - we will head across the Gulf Stream to The Bahamas. If not, then we will sail down to Lake Worth Inlet to wait a few days for the weather to improve.
Katherine, Celia, Celeste and Lekha joined Ms. Flanagan and Mr. Brown for an early morning snorkel before we departed for Treasure Cay marina on our last time underway as a crew. Lekha was at the helm on our way into the marina and up to the dock. After getting settled and starting into Field Day (an intense half-day cleaning of the boat), the marina asked us to move to another dock. This time Lily C. was at the helm bringing us alongside for a final time. Field Day wrapped up right before lunch, followed by jumping into the pool, a trip to the beach, showers and phones. For our final night together we went out to dinner at a restaurant on the beach and then gathered on deck for our final activities reflecting on our time together over the last six weeks. The crew departs tomorrow afternoon from Marsh Harbour.
We had a pre-dawn departure from our anchorage in hopes of arriving to a turtle-tagging creek near Water Cay at high tide. The wind was calm, so we steamed the entire 11 nautical miles and arrived just after breakfast. The student crew were happy to enjoy and extra hour of sleep with the time change. Over the course of the morning we had a team studying for their exam and a team tagging turtles. On the first wave, T.J. caught both turtles. On the second trip, Lily C. jumped one to start things off in my boat. Celia showed tenacity in pursuit and swam after a turtle for at least 5-10 minutes before capturing it. Lilly R. persisted and swam after one, retrieving it a few feet below the water. Katherine continued her reign as the master of jumping turtles and captured the last one. Meanwhile, Lekha and Mr. Brown were able to catch three lobsters.
Back on board for lunch and the final exam. After the exam everyone jumped in the water to mark the occasion. The balance of the afternoon was spent relaxing, swimming and paddle boarding. Lily C. was the first one to get hoisted aloft, followed by Celeste and Bridgit and most everyone else. I was able to find two more lobsters and on my way back saw the largest Spotted Eagle Ray that I have ever seen, similar in size to the one that the students saw at the reef at Pelican Cay Land & Sea Park. Lekha and Ms. Flanagan are making dinner - chicken and lobster burritos, along with apple and pumpkin pie!
Tomorrow we will head into the marina at Treasure Cay for our final full day together.
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