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.
Our day began with a full morning of safety orientation, followed by taking on fuel and a quick lunch before departing the dock. TJ was at the helm and steered us out of the channel and into the bay. We set the mainsail and jib, shut down the engine and were sailing.
We performed a dozen or so tacks making our way south in a light breeze. Everyone had an opportunity to steer and handle lines as we perfected our tacking evolution.
In the late afternoon, we sailed up to our anchorage off of Bristoli and had our first swim call. Celia was the cook today, and made us a dinner of cheese ravioli and meat sauce, with salad. A game of Uno, followed by some more on-board orientation and then study hall rounded off the evening.
The Starboard Watch (Lily, TJ, Bridgit and Lekha) did some more heavy lifting loading on our liferafts, the Port Watch (Katherine, Celeste, Celia and Lilly) cooked dinner. They made burritos with rice, beans, beef, vegetables, cheese and home-made guacamole - and we enjoyed our first dinner together as a crew in the cockpit on a beautiful warm night.
Thursday morning we headed ashore again but this time to Vineyard Haven. Many students indulged in some ice cream before returning to Geronimo. Shortly after lunch we were underway for the Elizabeth Islands. We short tacked our way west before cutting through Quicks Hole to Cuttyhunk. Gray cooked chicken fried rice for dinner and everyone helped with dishes so that there would be time to watch a movie afterwards. Ben and Max made popcorn and we settled in for the night.
As soon as chores were completed this morning, we set the mainsail and sailed off of the anchor for Newport. With the wind out of the south it was a quick trip back to the bay. We are now past Newport and on our way to an anchorage on the east side of Prudence Island. Hopefully we’ll be anchored and have all the sails put away before the rain sets in.
Martha’s Vineyard is just off our starboard bow and Cuttyhunk is steadily growing smaller behind us. Today is a perfect day to be on the water and the first full day of the second sea legs trip of the summer.
Seven incoming St. George’s students boarded Geronimo yesterday along with our two student trip leaders, Charis and Julia. Catherine was on the helm for our departure from Bristol, RI while the other students tended to dock lines and fenders. After a walk through of safety drills everyone turned to setting the mainsail and jib and sailing Geronimo down Narragansett Bay. By dinner we were anchored in Potter Cove across from Newport. The students’ first evening on board was spent playing Apples to Apples and discussing life at St. Georges.
This morning after chores and pancakes that Charlotte cooked, we hauled back the anchor and began our way out into Block Island Sound. Owen steered us underneath the Newport-Pell bridge and down past Castle Hill before we divided into watches. The morning we had perfect conditions and everyone got a turn sailing Geronimo on a comfortable beam reach. At the moment the wind has diminished considerably so we are motor-sailing along Martha’s Vineyard’s north coast. Our hope is to make it to Oak Bluff this evening to experience their annual illumination festival. Fortunately, the current is with us and we are making decent progress toward our destination. If all goes according to plan we’ll be there early this evening.
Our day started anchored off of Cuttyhunk. After chores were completed we piled into Thunder Chief, our small boat, to head ashore. There, time was spent checking out the small community and the few shops in town. By lunch time we were back aboard Geronimo and hauling back the anchor.
There was little to no breeze today so we decided to motor over to Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard. After about 3 hours we pulled into the bay and dropped anchor just outside of the inner harbor. Shortly thereafter we went over to the schooner Alabama and were given a tour of the 91year old ship. From here we headed onto the island to spend an hour walking around town. Now we are back aboard Geronimo. Miles and Kelvin are busy in the galley making tacos for dinner. The others are on deck chatting and enjoying the perfect weather. Once the guys are out of the galley Sophie and Cate are planning to make chocolate chip cookies for dessert. The remainder of the evening will likely be spent playing cards and hanging out.
Our first Sea Legs trip of the summer is underway. Yesterday eight incoming freshmen and VI former Sophie joined Geronimo for 5 days of sailing. As soon as everyone was aboard we pushed off from the dock and went to a nearby anchorage to discuss shipboard life and go over safety procedures. Shortly after, we raised the mainsail and sailed off of the anchor for Potter Cove near Jamestown.
Our anchorage may have only been 9 nm away but it took us 18 nm of sailing to get there as the wind was out of the south. This created an opportunity for each our new crew to tack the boat and practice using the winches. After roughly three hours of sailing we arrived in Potter Cove and let go the anchor. As the majority of the crew busily worked to take in sails and clean up on deck Mimi was down below preparing dinner. Around 7:30 we all came together to eat and share stories from our summer.
At ten o’clock we broke into anchor watches with Kelvin having the first shift. Everyone on board was assigned an hour during the night to make sure Geronimo remained safely at anchor. This morning we turned to our regular routine of chores and preparing the boat to go sailing. By nine o’clock the anchor was off the bottom and we were underway for Cuttyhunk. At the moment, starboard watch, comprised of Chance, Catie, Kelvin and Christina have the deck along with our 1st mate Mr. Mckenzie. There is very light wind this morning so we are motor sailing out of the bay. By this afternoon we should be anchored off of Cuttyhunk.
With the festivities over in Quebec City it was time for Geronimo to head back home to Rhode Island. The student summer crew departed the vessel for home and the professional crew quickly worked to prepare for the upcoming trip. 5 weeks had been allocated to sail Geronimo from Rhode Island to Quebec City, allowing plenty of time to explore the Canadian Maritimes. Our trip home, however, would have to be completed in just two weeks with a three day stop in Halifax in the middle.
In Quebec City we boarded our crew for the first leg of the transit, made up of Alumni and friends of St. George’s. After a parade of sail out of the harbor we began a push for Halifax, which was over 750 nm miles away. The first two days underway had little to no wind. Though frustrating on a sailboat, it did make for efficient motoring down the St. Lawrence River. Once out of the river and into the gulf we picked up a sailing breeze and headed southeast for the Canso Strait. Arriving early in the morning, we boarded a pilot and led a small procession of sailboats through the lock and waterway for the Atlantic Ocean. Naturally, when multiple sailboats find themselves together with the same destination it becomes a race. So, once through the strait we set our sails as quickly as possible along with the vessels Rona II and Vahine to “race” to Halifax. Fortunately, there was no shortage of wind on this side of Nova Scotia, unfortunately it was straight out of the southwest, the direction of our transit. Luckily Geronimo is a weatherly boat and we were able to beat our way down the coast for Halifax.
Three days were spent in Halifax enjoying the sights of the city and the Tall Ship Festival. Here, we also made a few crew changes and welcomed different Alumni aboard Geronimo for the next leg of the sail. Again we exited the harbor as part of a parade of sail. Once the parade had been completed all the vessels set more canvas and charged out of the harbor. From there, the tall ship fleet that we had been sailing with all summer began to break up to head to different destinations. Many embarked on a transatlantic journey to Europe, the remainder heading to additional ports in Nova Scotia or back home. Again we were faced with winds from the southwest. Early the following morning we found ourselves unexpectedly becalmed about 40nm off of the Nova Scotia coast. The calm seas were a welcome relief for some of the crew who were still finding their sea legs. After about 12 hours, the breeze filled back in and we were off for Portland, ME.
In Portland we cleared into the US and spent the afternoon walking around town. There was no time to stay overnight though, as a low pressure system was working its way up the east coast. Thunderstorms and heavy rain were forecast for the following day. All on board thought it best to try and get a head start on our passage south from Portland and try to avoid the unpleasant weather. We were able to avoid the rain and storms, but were not able to avoid the fog. By the morning we were sailing along in pea soup fog with less than 1/2 mile of visibility. The sailing conditions, aside from the fog, were favorable though and we made good time to the south. By 2200 we were entering the Cape Cod Canal. On the western side of the cape we had the best sailing conditions of the transit. Geronimo easily began sailing at 10kts on a close reach and scooted across Buzzards Bay. By daylight we were just off of Narragansett Bay. With the rising sun the wind moderated and Geronimo ghosted north past Newport and under the Newport-Pell Bridge. Just outside of Bristol, RI we took in our sails and went to the dock. Once alongside, time was spent cleaning the boat, inside and out. Afterwards a small BBQ was held on deck to celebrate our homecoming and a successful trip.
Today we board 8 incoming freshmen who will be sailing aboard Geronimo for the next week.
Trophy in hand, I can now announce that Geronimo and her crew took first place in the modern vessel class of Sail Training International’s race from Boston to Prince Edward Island. Sail Training International annually holds a race series that promotes camaraderie and competition between sailing vessels small and large whose mission is youth development through sailing. This race had Geronimo competing against vessels from Finland, Germany, England and Latvia with Geronimo being the only US representative in its class. Geronimo also had the distinction of having the youngest crew on board of any vessel participating. The race was sailed in challenging conditions with strong winds and two days of very limited visibility. Being the students first week on board the boat they all adapted incredibly well and remained focused and upbeat for the duration of the race. This accomplishment, of out performing these other vessels who routinely race in these events is something all on board can take pride in. Congratulations to Vivian, Kari, Kenta, Mac, Natalie, and Krysten for their success!
Geronimo is well on her way to Quebec City. Yesterday, the students decided that the best time to leave Rimouski, based on tides and currents in the river, was 11 pm. So after a taco dinner prepared by Kari, most of the crew went to bed for a brief while before having to get up and get underway. Through the night there was little wind which allowed us to make steady progress using our engine. Around 8 this morning shouts came from on deck announcing the presences of beluga whales. For roughly the next hour we had a marine mammal show all around us seeing belugas, minkes, seals, and dolphins just off of the boat. Kenta was quick to grab his camera and capture as much of it as possible.
The students just had another planning session and have decided to leave Iles Aux Coudres to the north and to take the southern channel down the river. This route is navigationally a little more challenging than the north route but the students have decided the shorter distance and more favorable currents make it worth the little extra work and focus that will be required through the night. By this time tomorrow we will likely be docked in Quebec City our final port of the voyage.
We made it to Rimouski and earned every mile that we traveled to the west to get here. The Geronimo crew has now sailed in nearly every sailing condition from favorable beam reaches and runs to no wind at all to current and wind both on the nose. For this past transit we were stuck with the latter. Luckily we only had 400 nm to go and nearly a week to do it. We pulled into the Rimouski Marina at 0900 Friday morning.
Today we took time to stretch our legs and spend some time in the forest at Parc Du Bic National park. Here we hiked to the highest point of the park and enjoyed fantastic views of the Seaway. Mac, Kenta and Vivian led the pack to the top, reaching the viewing platform first. On our way back to Geronimo we stopped at the supermarket for our last provisioning run of the voyage. With one more transit still ahead of us we are turning our sights to Quebec City and the challenge of navigating the St. Lawrence River, famous for its dynamic currents. Tomorrow afternoon the students will learn how to use tidal reference stations and a tidal atlas so they can best decide when and where we should be traveling in the river.
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