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.
We are safely anchored off of New Bight in Cat Island. It was a great sail from Turks and Caicos to the Bahamas. We averaged over 8kts for the whole passage. The wind almost seemed to follow us around as we sailed on a starboard tack the entire trip.
Both nights were very clear and provided opportunities for star gazing and learning more about constellations and navigational stars. We were even still able to see the Southern Cross. There was also twinkling coming from the water as we passed large sections of bioluminescence that glowed as the tiny organisms were agitated by the ship’s hull.
Right now we are preparing for Sunday dinner. A tradition on ships where the crew puts on the cleanest of their clothes and gathers for a slightly more formal meal. This one being a little extra special as it’s Easter. With that said, all the crew of Geronimo wishes a Happy Easter to their friends and families back home and are sending warm Bahama’s greetings your way.
Geronimo has added a new country its two year Atlantic voyage with our stop in Turks and Caicos. Exploring Providenciales Island has been a great reward after our first major passage together. The trip was filled with both upwind and downwind sailing and one very damp rain filled night. It really poured! The students are becoming more and more comfortable with handling the vessel and navigation. All can now find the ship’s position with a three bearing fix and through deduced reckoning. Some of the students have even gone out of their way to learn new nautical tasks, like Rachel who has been calculating sunrise and sunset for us each day.
Coming on to Caicos Banks was an exciting moment. First because of its shallow depths and second because of the beautiful light blue water we began transiting. Julia, Mary and Zoey were selected to be the helmsmen for this tricky passage which demanded a lot of focus while on the helm to keep us on a safe route in. Chris, with the help of Jackson, made ready and let go the anchor once we arrived in Sapodilla Bay, our destination for the next few nights.
Today was our first day ashore. After a study hall this morning we drove to the north coast of the island to explore Grace Bay. After our time here we went to the Caicos Conch Farm, which specializes in farming Queen Conch. Here we learned about the life cycle of the mollusk and what is entailed to raise them. The students got to hold and lure the animals out of their shells. The conch were surprisingly curious and willing to come out and investigate as we held them. Tomorrow morning we plan to head to Smith’s Reef for some snorkeling and in the afternoon attend a Fish Fry gathering held in town with music and dancing.
The wind has finally filled in and we are making good speed toward the Bahamas. Over the past two days we have been mostly sailing downwind making ground to the west but at fairly slow speeds. Now we are skipping along at 7kts and leaving the Dominican Republic coastline behind us.
The students have done a great job adjusting to life at sea and the challenge of balancing watch standing and school work. Today on watch Mary and Chris helped decipher the weather forecast and put together a voyage plan for this passage that they presented to the rest of the crew. Currently in the galley, Zoey, Natalie and Rachel are preparing fresh Mahi Mahi for dinner that we caught earlier today.
Rumors are circulating that we may make a stop in Turks and Caicos on our way to the Bahamas. Given the current weather forecast and the route we are on it is quite likely that we will visit this small island country before continuing on to the Bahamas. All in all things are good aboard Geronimo.
We are underway for our first extended passage. With Puerto Rico growing smaller behind us we’ve set our sights on the the Bahamas. Students will be working in three watches to ensure the successful and safe passage of Geronimo as we operate 24 hours a day. Many are looking forward to standing watch in the middle of the night and getting into the general at sea routine.
Our last few days in Puerto Rico were filled with excursions ashore to supplement the Marine Ecology portion of the Marine Science class taught on board the boat. First we stopped in Jobos Bay where we were fortunate enough to be guided around the Nature Reserve that makes up much of the bay. Our guide Ernesto told us about what makes mangroves and the ecosystems they inhabit so unique. This was a great introduction to a habitat we will frequently see along the voyage and one Mary and Julia will be presenting on later in the trip.
From here we traveled to Isla Caja de Muertos about 5nm off the Puerto Rico coast. Here we had our first opportunity to snorkel, seeing schools of fish and rays along the beach. Next we were off to La Parguera on the southwest end of mainland Puerto Rico. Jackson kept his cool as he steered Geronimo through the obstacle course of reefs and mangrove islands that we had to navigate through to get to our anchorage for the night. After a short Marine Science class we all headed ashore for our last bit of land and Puerto Rican culture before saying goodbye to the Isla del Encanto, as it often known, and heading for the Mona Passage.
The Spring Geronimo voyage has begun! The students arrived to the vessel late Saturday and quickly moved into their bunks and settled in. Sunday morning began with a hearty breakfast prepared by Zoey. Her meal of pancakes, eggs, bacon and fruit set the bar high for future cooks and was a great way to start the trip off. The morning was spent going over safety material and walking through our shipboard and individual responses in case of an emergency. Ready for a break from the sun and marina, we piled into two cars and headed to El Yunque. Here we hiked to La Mina Falls and swam in the pools at its base. Back on the boat we made ready to get underway for a nearby anchorage. Hallie very smoothly steered us out of the slip and all the way to the anchorage.
Today we had an early breakfast, this time it was Julia’s turn to cook and afterwards we rolled right into line handling and setting sail instructions. By 8:30 we were underway for the south coast of Puerto Rico. Next on the agenda was our first formal Marine Science class where we discussed the basics of chart work and how to find your position with a three bearing fix.
At the moment we are roughly 25 nm away from this evening's destination in the Bahia de Jobos. The students have been divided into watches and are getting familiar with steering Geronimo downwind. I hope to be at the anchorage by sundown where we will celebrate Chris’s 16th birthday.
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