BVI: Session 3 - Catalinaville
Posted: Fri, Aug 15, 2014
Location: West End, Tortola
Today is the last day being on the boat and so far it has been incredible. We woke up very early, each in random parts of the boat. We had to eat breakfast really quickly because we had a big day ahead of us and it needed to start as soon as possible. There is a mountain called Spyglass very close to where we had anchored the night before and we had the luxury to climb it. Once we reached the top, there was a spectacular view that took all of our breath away. Although it was a short hike, it was exhausting and we were all drenched in sweat.
Looking over the mountain, down onto the water, I felt so lucky to be in the most beautiful place on earth. It was a perfect location to reflect on what we had done on the trip and appreciate how it made an impact on each one of us personally. I couldn’t imagine having a better last impression of the BVI, because this view was the best Ive ever seen in my entire life. The rest of the day we have been cleaning the boats as thoroughly as possible because it has to be returned to Sunsail Charter company. Our last hoorah of this trip will be a barbeque between all of the boats, and we will all say goodbye. It will most definitely be difficult to let go and detach ourselves from this amazing adventure but we will all bring back a piece of it in our day to day lives. This trip has changed each of our lives in so many different ways and I’m truly grateful for that.
Posted: Thu, Aug 14, 2014
Day 15- Last Night on the Water
Location: The Bight, Norman Island
Some of the best days can come when they are least expected. One may expect that it is the busier days that would be the most fun since they are jam-packed with activities; however I have found that sometimes just being with the people you love is all you need to have a fabulous time. Today we were allowed to sleep in until the luxurious time of 8:00 (a time I would consider mind-numbingly early while at home). The extra sleep energized us and put the whole crew in great moods for the rest of the day, enabling us to laugh just a bit louder and dance a little crazier to our morning CD. We began our relaxing day by taking a walk on Peters Island to see the drastic difference between the original town there (which has remained unchanged for decades) with the luxury hotel on the edge of a pristine beach. The contrast allowed us to think about our lives and what we believe to be necessary and how these concepts may have changed during our three weeks here in the BVI. We all agreed that it is not material objects that should determine our happiness but ourselves. While choosing to be happy is not possible for everyone, there are always situations in which one can choose to spin a potentially negative situation into a positive one and a new opportunity for growth. After some quiet contemplation we returned to the boat (which now sufficiently feels like home) and immediately jumped in the water. Many people practiced their free diving and although I was not able to participate as a result of my inability to hold my breath for than 15 seconds it was still lovely to have a quiet moment to float and enjoy the scenery. By taking a step back from our normally packed-schedule we were able to reflect on our time spent here. It’s moments like these that I will miss the most. There are few times in my life I have laughed as hard and has frequently as I have on this trip, with people who were complete strangers just a little over two weeks ago.
Posted: Wed, Aug 13, 2014
Day 14- VISAR Day
Location: Great Harbor, Peter Island
This morning we woke up at 6:30am and I awoke to the view of the clear water next to my hammock; it was really perfect. Some of my shipmates did yoga as they watched the sunrise and then we were underway to the VISAR headquarters. Right when we arrived at VISAR, one of the head volunteers gave us a tour and then gave a short briefing on the program and what they all have to do for the job. (Editor’s Note: VISAR, Virgin Islands Search and Rescue, is an entirely volunteer organization committed to saving lives at sea in the Virgin Islands. The volunteers are regular people with normal occupations who have trained to respond to an issue on the water at any point in the day; whether they have just arrived at work or have just fallen asleep. There are about 45 of these volunteers associated with the organization.) Near the end of his talk with us he got a page to actually respond to a situation. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a huge problem, a boat nearby the headquarters just started to sink a bit. Our counselor Gwen (who is an EMT) was able to go on VISAR’s really cool boat to the accident. All of us then began to weed the plants in their parking lot and 5 of us (it rotated) jumped in the water where the rescue boat is usually docked and dredged their channel or shoveled out the dirt and made the water deeper so the boat wouldn’t be in shallow water. We worked for a few hours and then Elliot, David, Gwen and Anna surprised us all with pizza! Everyone thought our lunch would be PB&Js or deli meats but really they treated us to pizza. Once we finished the pizza the VISAR volunteers treated us with popsicles which was also really great! Before getting back to work we all played a few rounds of the game “Big Booty” which is really funny and sort of hard. We continued to dredge and weed and once the work was noticeably different we headed back to our boat and drove to Moorings dock in Road Town and we got to use real showers down at the dock. That was probably the highlight of the day because you don’t really realize how much you should appreciate showers back at home. Finally to wrap up the day we went back to Great Harbor Peter (where we slept last night) and had breakfast for dinner. I would have to say, today was pretty great!
Posted: Tue, Aug 12, 2014
Day 13- Turn Down for What?
Location: Great Harbor, Peter Island
This morning we got up early as usual and sailed from Sandy Spit to Sea Cows Bay. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful this morning. Today was the first day in a very long time that I appreciated the beauty of my home, the British Virgin Islands; especially since I get to see it from the view of a visitor. When we got to Sea Cows Bay, Elliot, our captain, went to shore to pick up the kids from the Youth Empowerment Project, aka YEP and we got to meet and socialize with them when they got to the boat. We then left in our new dinghy Scarface because someone else in the program took Shadow, our favorite dinghy that we loved with all our hearts. After we arrived on shore we split up into four groups, each with two Yeppies and three Lifeworks students. We then proceeded to measure the height of the mangroves and also worked on planting new ones for the National Park Trust. It was nice to see all the kids from my home and my crewmates socializing, laughing and having a good time with each other. When we were done planting the mangroves we said goodbye to the Yep kids and had lunch. Bonnie, Gwen and David hooked everyone with some incredible grilled cheese sandwiches. Bonnie took the orders, Gwen prepared the cold cuts and vegetables and David grilled the sandwiches. After lunch we set sail for Great Harbor Peter Island. I was the skipper of the day so I got to sail the boat to each of our destinations. When we got to Peter Island and anchored, we all gathered at the bow of our vessel and Elliot and Gwen taught us how to make Turks Head bracelets. Shortly after that we picked roles to act out for an emergency drill for a non-profit organization called Virgin Islands Search and Rescue, aka VISAR. As the skipper of the day I played the role of none other than the captain in the drill. Drew played a lady with an injured back and Justin played the role of a man with a broken arm and a cut on his leg. When the drill was over, they took us for a ride in their Super Dinghy with 550 horsepower. That thing cuts through the ocean like butter. We then went to the bow of the boat and had a question and answer session with the people from VISAR. After they left we showered and then had the best Mexican night ever. Everyone ate until their stomachs were filled. David and I started a sour cream food fight and everyone sang the Circle Life, In the Jungle and One Love. By the end of it Elliot and Jacob were sick but we all enjoyed it. We then cleaned up and as I am writing this blog the sweet scent of brownies dances and plays with my nose. This is my favorite day on board the beautiful Catalinaville.
Posted: Mon, Aug 11, 2014
Location: Sandy Spit, Green Cay
This morning we awoke in the serene Brewers Bay for an early morning downwind sail to Jost Van Dyke. Jost Van Dyke is the third most populous of the four main islands here in the BVI and home of the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, a group devoted to preserving the cultural heritage of Jost Van Dyke. Upon arrival at the island, we were acquainted with six kids aged 8-17. After several ice breaker games and a round of mafia, we took them back to our boat for a sail to a the beach at Smugglers Cove on Tortola for a brief beach clean up. On this particular cleanup, we logged the types of trash we found on a form for the National Parks Trust of the British Virgin Islands to be used in a study on the most common kinds of trash that crowd the islands beaches (based on today, it seemed to be plastic solo cups). Pristine beach behind us, we enjoyed some swimming and chicken fights in the water before we returned to our boat and headed back to Jost Van Dyke. The departure of our guests was followed by a brief time on shore for some ice cream, before we motored out to Sandy Spit Cay for a beach barbeque. The perfect round-out to our day, though, was when we left the barbeque and Gwen had to be submerged to her neck to get on the dinghy- we have yet to figure out why since no one else got wet. Hopefully tomorrow is as eventful and entertaining.