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.
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.
The Geronimo Spring trip begins April 1st!
This morning after cleaning the ship inside and out we sailed off the anchor, with Rose at the helm, bound for Culebra. Despite the fact that our destination was only 18nm away it took nearly all day to get there. With the wind out of the Southeast we had to work our way to windward to make it to tonight's anchorage. After more than 7 hours of sailing Lexi brought us through the narrow reef into the heart of Culebra.
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.
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