Location: Mountain Point, Virgin Gorda
This session is flying by! It is hard to believe that just ten days ago nobody on the boat knew one another. Now, we feel like one big family. ActionQuest is an international program, and it really shows this session. With shipmates hailing from France, Spain, Singapore, and all around the States, it makes for some interesting times indeed! These past ten days have been jam-packed with activities. The entirety of Tanis Marie is Carina, which means they are all going for their PADI Advanced Open Water diving certification, and Jared, Izzie, and Max are even going for their advanced sailing certifications. Before we knew it, we were off the dock and underway having the time of our lives. The first day off the dock, we sailed all day under beautiful blue skies and the warm sun. Martin was the navigator so helped us plot our course while Mathis was also interested and decided to jump in to help out. Everybody got a chance for a feel at the helm and practiced raising the mainsail as well as pulling out the jib. Safety is the number one priority, Aaron and Anna gave thorough briefings regarding the use of winches, handling lines, and general boat etiquette. Grace, being the skipper of the day, sailed the boat well and got the boat to a blazing 8.3 knots! The first time everybody got to see the underwater beauty of the BVI’s was at a site named aptly, “The Caves.” I took Grace, Martin, Jackson, Paula, and Izzie while skipper Aaron took Sophie, Mathis, Billy, Jared, Max, and Emily. They got a chance to practice free-diving skills and getting used to the warm, beautifully clear water all while taking in the schools of fish that were swarming around us at times and the caves that we got to snorkel into. The Baths are one of the most amazing sites in the BVI’s. Coming up to them, you are taken aback by their beauty. Once we arrived, the shipmates had a wonderful time exploring the nooks and crannies that are formed from the thousands of tons of granite. Izzie and Max especially enjoyed looking for the cave’ that is found by carefully swimming from Devil’s Bay. They eventually let the rest of the group into the secret’. Jared enjoyed leaping off the famous jumping rock while having competitions with Martin for the best flip. At Vixen Point the boats rafted up to get to know the other shipmates on the other boats, as well as to prepare for the BBQ that was to come in a couple of days. The Carinas learned a lot about navigation, deep diving, and fish identification to further hone their dive skills. During the day, fun was also had on the Picos and windsurfers, as the shipmates, or Tanisians’ applied what they learned during Aaron and Anna’s sail briefings. Izzie and Paula learned the hard way regarding jibing as they capsized their Picos twice, but smiles were still had all around. The boys got a little bit competitive as any tack turned into a race. Anegada is the most isolated island in the BVIs, and most tourists never make it the 13 miles over open water to the picturesque island that pops out of the ocean. Walking down the beach, playing in the water, and appreciating the many shades of blue that the water was showing that day made it a special time. Sailing away from it was bitter-sweet, as we were leaving one amazing place to head to another one, Mountain Point.
Regarding the underwater realm, the Tanisians are only one dive away from completing their advanced diving certification and completed their Fish Identification Specialty Course today at the amazing Mountain Point dive site. It certainly felt like a lot more fun than learning, with the beautiful cliff faces extending into the water and myself and fellow scuba instructor Simon, who hails from Scotland, leading the groups through underwater valleys, archways and schools of parrot fish. Simon and I both agreed that this dive was our favorite for the entire summer so far, especially since everyone was bubbling with excitement on the surface and on the boat talking about the sea turtle, stingray, parrot fish and the shenanigans that were had when the two groups found each other underwater. It is hard to imagine that we are halfway through this session. The shipmates have grown very close together and learned about some cultural differences between one another. It is nice to hear them speak about visiting each other at home, especially after they speak about the unique landscapes that surround them. Through a bit of rain, and lots of sunshine, we have grown together as a group, and are working together as a well-oiled crew. The staff on Tanis Marie are looking forward to continuing to be positive role models to the Tanisians as they grow the rest of the trip.