Sierra 1 Trip Update Day 16 – Graham, Program Director
So far this trip, we have had amazing weather: the sun and challenges of remaining hydrated have been our main competitors. When we went to bed last night, it was overcast. In the night, we have fallen victim to quite the thunderstorm. Rain pounded down, making the decks sing in the ominous way they do when the wind and rain are beating hard on the fiberglass. When it was time to get up today, it was overcast, cool and everything seemed fresh as the new day’s sun struggled to break through the dense clouds shadowing us.
This morning we had several great activities planned. First, we all jumped in and set to looking for all the garbage and trash that we could find in the mooring field. This is a monumental task that can only be managed by putting physical size and time limits on the garbage collections. The kayak came back, laden with such things as glass bottles, bits of mats, mooring ball stickers and the handles for engine throttles; it was quite heavy and full! As we all rested and looked over our treasure, we prepared ourselves for the lesson of the day: squids. When a box of squid was put on the table, the reactions were mixed. Lizzie led the dissection by talking about the general anatomy of the animals and the chromataphors, or light changing cells that allow these organisms to change colors. It can be difficult to pull out the organs in a way in which they can still be identified, but after a couple of tries the students successfully dissected their squids. We pulled out the internalized shell (after all, these animals are mollusks) and after removing the ink sacks we could draw with a very rudimentary “pen” and “ink”. By the time we were done, we had dissected 12 squid. Zach’s squid was a female, laden with eggs! When we were all done, it was an option to see what would eat the dead squid if it was thrown overboard. As we watched the first squid slowly slip into oblivion, we were surprised when it suddenly disappeared, as a shadowy figure seemed to appear out of the depths and disappear the moment it showed up. We quickly tossed in a second specimen. This time we could see a fish of about three and a half feet in length swim by slowly and quickly eat the food in one bite. At first, this gray fish with almost fixed pectoral fins and a long swooping trail appeared to be a small shark. When it came to the surface, the flattened forehead with deep ‘V’s and small eyes low on its head showed that it was not a shark at all — it was a sharksucker, a large fish that mounts itself with large V-shaped suction cups on its head to the bottom of sharks and feeds off the scraps of food left behind as the shark eats.
After feeding this creature and getting a good look, we sailed to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor via the Dog Islands. VGYH is a beautiful marina, well protected; it has beautiful lawns and palm trees providing shade. After Ainsley expertly docked our boat, we all got our phones to give a call home before dinner got rolling. We worked on our group projects for about an hour, then headed to the freshwater showers! After Kristen and Michael prepared us an amazing chicken curry dinner with wild rice, we gorged ourselves and planned our skit for the “Talent/No-Talent” show at 8:30 p.m. with Foxtrot. We settled on a skit involving “I Like to Move It” by Shaggy, complete with lots of synchronized dance moves and beat-boxing. Now, full of pride and ice cream, we brushed our teeth and readied ourselves for bed.