Location: The Bight, Norman Island
As Session Two comes to an end, Anna, Quincey, and I have to say sad goodbyes to another round of shipmates. It’s hard to believe that just three weeks ago, these shipmates were strangers, sweating in the St. Thomas airport, wondering what they had signed themselves up for. Now they’re a true crew of sailors: one tight group, as close as a family, bonded by the experience of having shared a 46 ft boat with one another. We started off with a dozen shipmates, but with the addition of Juliana, our boat was loaded to the max with a total of 13 shipmates and three crew. Even though Juliana joined a day late, she quickly became an integral part of the Moko Jumbie team. Over the course of the last three weeks, Lifeworks has taken part in some amazing projects, and our shipmates have done every task set before them excellently. One of my favorite projects we did this session was turtle tagging. In this session, we caught eight turtles using the rodeo and manta-tow style. All the shipmates were incredible but several of them stick out: Ethan single-handedly dove to about twenty feet to catch a nice sized Hawksbill in an incredible feat of athleticism and technique; Josh took home the award for largest turtle caught this session in Anegada, a beastly green turtle measuring 54cm across the length of its shell! Austin assisted in the release of one of the larger turtles I’ve ever had to handle and successfully released the turtle back into the ocean; Megan took the lead in recording the data and was an incredibly important member of the turtle tagging team as the official scribe. Another one of my favorite projects this session was working with Virgin Island Search and Rescue (VISAR). The shipmates did an awesome job helping with maintenance at the VISAR headquarters, where we painted, worked on their driveway, and dredged silt from their boat’s channel. Juliana and Alex did an amazing job on the dredging team and at one point, pulled a MASSIVE sheet of wood off the bottom. Megan, Ana, and Tori took charge of painting and did a magnificent job transforming the base’s facade from a dull red to a vibrant safety-orange color. It was a long, hot day, but everyone worked really hard, and we did a great job. We also got to work with children from the Islands on several projects, and our shipmates got to interact and learn a bit about the people and culture of the BVIs. The kids were awesome but had SO MUCH energy, and we all struggled to keep pace with them. Megan and Haley, in particular, stood out by working really well with an 8-year-old who was LITERALLY bouncing off the walls. Austin was also really great with the kids at Bregado Flax Elementary School and somehow managed to keep going even after the rest of us were drained of energy. When the kids did finally stop running around, they all swarmed to Haley and some of the other girls for face painting. We didn’t spend all day every day on the projects, however, and many of my favorite moments this session just happened on the boat. One was when Ana volunteered to help cook so that Tori wouldn’t have to work on her birthday. Another was the times we jammed to the Frozen soundtrack, or Cam tried to teach us what “harmonizing” is (whatever that means). We also got a “Fun Day,” during which Josh stunned us with his wakeboarding skills, and Jeff took half the boat out for private Pico lessons. Those who didn’t get to go out with Jeff tried their hardest but ended up flipping the boat (aka Kat and Tori!). We had some great sails which everyone enjoyed (even Katie once she got over her early sea-sickness) and one particularly crazy day when waves were washing right over our bow, soaking the shipmates who clung to the trampoline together. All the shipmates helped out around the boat with sailing activities, but Alex was particularly useful and picked up more mooring balls more than anyone else on this trip. Katie and Kat have been exceptional chefs during our trip; they have created masterpieces such as burritos and Thai Peanut Chicken. Even when it wasn’t their job of the day to be chef, they wanted to help out with meal prep as much as they could. I think it’s safe to say that all of us Staff members on Moko Jumbie will take home dozens of memories from our time with y’all, and we’ll look back on this session fondly. Three weeks has not been enough time with the incredible shipmates of Moko Jumbie, and I hope we see all of them again in the near future!