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.
Happy Canada Day! (a day late) Pugwash has been the perfect port to experience small town Nova Scotian life. With yesterday being Canada Day, the town organized a parade and small carnival that we were able to enjoy. Lots of people have also come down to the pier where Geronimo is docked to check out the vessels moored here. The students have enjoyed meeting the public and talking about their experiences aboard Geronimo.
This afternoon Mac, Vivian and I will head out to the grocery store to restock our provisions to prepare for the remainder of our voyage. With our next official port being out in the Magdalen Islands we thought it best to restock here in a slightly larger community. This evening we will say goodbye to Pugwash on the high tide, following a large salt carrier out of the harbor. We plan to sail through the night for Prince Edward Island.
Greetings from Pugwash, Nova Scotia! Geronimo is docked along with the vessels Katie Belle and Atyla for the weekend as part of the town’s Harbour Fest and Canada Day celebrations.
We left Pitcou early yesterday morning to ensure we made it to Pugwash on the slack tide. This harbor requires special attention when proceeding in as there is a large tidal difference and a river with a strong current at the end of the bay. Kenta was on the helm for the majority of the passage up the channel and smoothly brought us up to our dock.
The students are becoming at home aboard Geronimo and are settled into the routines. They are also becoming strong navigators. With so much coastal sailing ahead of us the focus on watch has been understanding terrestrial navigation and finding our position with a three bearing fix. The student’s confidently piloted us to Pugwash and ensured that we arrived on time for the tide.
Prior to our transit here we spent the afternoon in Pictou. This small town was welcoming and shared their marina facilities with us, so everyone could enjoy a shower on shore. We also visited the Northumberland Strait’s Fisheries Museum and lobster hatchery. Our guide explained the importance of fishing in the community and allowed us to hold some of the lobsters at the hatchery.
Today we will welcome the public down to the dock. The students will be working in rotations to greet the public and answer any questions people may have about the vessel or program.
Once again we are on the move, this time bound for Pictou, Nova Scotia. Geronimo spent the last two nights rafted alongside the Spirit of South Carolina in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. This was a popular stopover for other vessels from the race as it is a port of entry into Canada. Before we knew it 8 other vessels from the fleet were tied up in the harbor, 5 of us all rafted together at the end of the pier. It was great to be able to meet the other crews and see some of the other vessels we had been watching closely on our navigation instruments during the race.
Yesterday afternoon was dedicated to exploring Cape Breton. We started with lunch at the Cape Breton Celtic Music Interpretive Centre. During lunch hours the centre has musicians playing music unique to the island and a brief lesson is given on its origins and traditions. Afterwards we drove to the Bras d’Or Lakes and the town of Baddeck. Here the students were given some free time and a chance to stretch their legs.
This morning we prepared to get back underway. In order to pass through the Strait we needed to transit through a lock. Krysten steered us in and Kenta and Vivian manned the mooring lines as we came down three feet to meet the tidal level of the other side of the strait. A minke whale was there to welcome us into none other than St George’s Bay, the body of water on the western side of the Strait of Canso.
We crossed the finish line at 2:43 local time early this morning. Natalie was standing by the chart and GPS to get the exact moment we crossed the line to report to race control. It is hard to say right now where we stand overall as time correction factors still need to be applied to everyone’s time but I’m cautiously optimistic that we will come out in good standing. Over the course of the race we were able to overtake all of our competitors in class C and D which consists of modern vessels like Geronimo. We held our lead against them all the way until the finish. Everyone on board is deservedly proud of this accomplishment.
With the race behind us and the sun finally out we are enjoying a leisurely motor sail through the Strait of Canso. Kari and Krysten currently have the watch, along with Ms. Hadley, navigating us through this narrow waterway which bisects lower Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. We plan to stop at Port Hawkesbury, midway through the Strait, to clear into Canadian customs and catch up on some sleep.
We are currently cruising at 9kts across the Gulf of Maine aiming for the first waypoint of the course. Its been a competitive race and at all times we have been in sight of other vessels. This has built extra excitement and pressure to stay ahead of them. The crew has done remarkably well adjusting to their new surroundings and responsibilities on board. The students were thrown right into the thick of it and have risen to the occasion. Sailing Geronimo at this speed demands a lot of attention. Kenta and Vivian have already stood out as skilled helmsmen, both are able to hold a steady course, in challenging conditions, for their entire turn on the helm. Kari led the charge in the galley this morning preparing us breakfast after four hours on watch. Mac put together a navigation presentation about the race and our opponents that he shared this afternoon. Everyone has been contributing to the success of this leg of the voyage.
We are roughly a third of the way through the course and expect to cross the finish line in less than two days time. It will be interesting to see how the sailing conditions change as we round Cape Sable at the southern end of Nova Scotia.
The summer Geronimo program has begun! The student crew joined the boat yesterday in Boston and are already well settled in. Last night after a vessel orientation and dinner on deck we ventured out for ice cream and a walk up to Bunker Hill.
This morning Krysten stepped up to be the first cook of the voyage, preparing a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. Afterwards we headed into Boston to explore the city and look at some of the larger sailboats and ships in port. Once back aboard Geronimo we turned our attention to shipboard safety and routines, extensively going over the vessel’s safety equipment and everyone’s responsibilities in the event of an emergency.
We have just wrapped up dinner and dishes and are about to sit around the main salon table and discuss our first sail together as a crew. This trip will bring us north to Nova Scotia and the Strait of Canso. While in route we will be racing against the other sail training vessels also heading from Boston to Nova Scotia. The wind looks favorable making for a speedy and competitive race. Everyone is looking forward to getting underway tomorrow morning.
We are in the final stretch of the Spring Geronimo voyage with tonight being the students’ last night on board. Over the course of the past 6 weeks we have covered more than 2500nm sailing from Puerto Rico back home to Rhode Island. It has been an excellent voyage and we are excited to be the crew to deliver Geronimo back to Newport and St. George’s.
The last few days on the boat have been jam packed. Late Tuesday we arrived in Block Island where Mary smoothly docked Geronimo with little instruction from the crew. Our stay on Block Island was made all the better by the generosity of the Elwell family who acted as our hosts for our time there, providing pizza and wings upon arrival and a tour of the island the next day. Before long though, we had to keep pushing on to Narragansett Bay. Thursday the students had their Marine Science practical. This consisted of each student tacking and gybing the boat, directing the other crew through the maneuver. Everyone did very well. Natalie stood out as the only student to execute a perfect gybe without missing a step.
Today we are in Bristol, RI making final preparations for our return to Newport. In the morning the USCG stopped by the boat for our annual inspection. We were asked to go for a short sail and demonstrate how we would react in an emergency situation. The students demonstrated confidently how much they had learned and how integral they are to the safe operation of Geronimo. Currently the students are taking their marine science final exam, once completed we will go out to dinner to celebrate and reflect on our voyage.
Tomorrow morning we will all be up early to get underway for Newport!
We have had a great transit up the east coast. On Saturday we rounded Cape Hatteras cruising at 9kts on a broad reach. Within 24hrs of our departure from Cape Lookout we were at the mouth of the Chesapeake. Covering just shy of 200nm in 24hrs. Since then the wind has been more sporadic and we have at times needed to motor to keep our speed up.
More than on any previous leg of the voyage the students have especially come together on this passage as shipmates and as sailors. They have handled the range of conditions calmly and thoughtfully. They continue to show excitement for sailing and for life on board. We have really hit our stride as a crew.
We are, however, working to embrace the cooler temperatures we are now sailing in. Almost immediately after rounding Cape Hatteras the sea and air temp started to decrease drastically. Warmer jackets and gloves are being passed around between the watches and lots of tea and hot chocolate is being consumed.
Later today we hope to make it to Block Island where we will spend the night, our first port of call back in Rhode Island.
Geronimo is securely anchored in the shadow of Cape Lookout light waiting for a front to pass by, after which we will round Cape Hatteras and press on north. Being Cinco de Mayo, we had a Mexican themed day in the galley with Chris cooking fajitas and sapodillas for dinner. Earlier in the day we had a marine science class where we broke out sextants for the first time and the concept of local apparent noon and how to find your latitude using the sun was introduced. It was also a momentous day as Hallie and Zoey finished all their non marine science course work. The first two students of the trip to do so.
Dinner clean up has just finished and most of the students are playing cards together or working on their school work. As soon as the weather clears we will be back underway.
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