For many, the day started a little bit earlier this morning as some rain rolled in at about 6 am and woke up the kids who were sleeping up on decks. Luckily, it passed by relatively quickly and the day was able to go on as planned. Those students who are working to achieve their open water certification weren’t affected by the weather at all, as most of their morning was spent underwater. Katie, Daniel, Tommy and Gabby were very proud of their accomplishments as the completed their first day of scuba skills in the water. As for the rest of the students, the slight drizzle in the morning made a perfect for the hike on Salt Island, a very scarcely populated island near Cooper, where the inhabitants once made and sold salt, collected from their enormous salt pond teeming with its own self sustaining ecosystem. On their way into the island, the kids caught a glimpse of the old graveyard on the island, where the victims of the wreck of one of her majesty’s early trade ships, the Rhone, were buried. The wreck of the Rhone is now a famous dive spot that divers from all over the world flock to the BVI to see. On the island, the kids climbed up the mountain to see a beautiful view of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, and spent some time exploring the island. After lunch, non-divers had the option of doing some water sports such as wakeboarding and tubing or going on a sail on Patricia J. Nick especially seemed to have a great time on the sail, the weather had left behind some wonderfully windy conditions which made for a really exciting afternoon on the water. At around 5:30, everyone returned back to the boat at Cooper to shower and prepare dinner. After a delicious barbeque chicken dinner, made completely independently by the kids, the night ended with a brownie social at the Cooper Island restaurant. It was the perfect way to top off our super fun and busy day.
Bright and early the Bravo fleet woke up rested and ready for our most action-packed day yet. Having had a few days to adjust to their new living arrangements, the kids of Venture III talked excitedly over breakfast about how they had just had their best night of sleep since starting the program. They love being able to sleep under the stars now that they feel totally used to it. Right at 8:15, everyone working for their open water scuba certification dinghyed into to the dive base for another morning of courses. Everyone else had the option of sailing to Fallen Jerusalem, a really cool, small, rocky island off of Virgin Gorda, or staying at Cooper to play beach games and go tubing. Lunch was prepared and ready to eat by the time the divers returned from their morning so the fleet was able to push off and eat underway as soon as they came back. Morgan and Justin of Patricia J did a great job demooring on their way out of the Cooper Island Sound and into the Sir Francis Drake Channel. The wind was still really strong today, so we put a couple of reefs in our sails before we set off downwind towards Norman Island. On the sail, our students were taught how to work with a preventer and how to jibe safely on a downwind point of sail. Once at Norman, our open water certification students went in to continue their courses at the Sail Caribbean Divers Norman Island base, while the rest of the students set off for an afternoon snorkel at the caves. The west side of Norman has three swimmable caves where the pirates that once roamed the these islands are known to have stored their booty. While snorkeling, Izzy, Carlos, Jorge and Edwin saw an octopus, a very rare and exciting sighting in the BVI! The rest of the late afternoon was spent preparing delicious mahi mahi, rice and broccoli dinner. Alex B of Venture III got creative with his broccoli preparation and made it into a wonderful stir fry (he and his dad’s recipe!) which everyone was very eager to chow down. After such a long and exciting day, many students were very happy to have a quiet night on board, and those who came to Sail Caribbean already having completed their open water certification, referred to here as “fun divers,” were able to go out on a special night dive to top off the day. At boat meetings tonight, everyone was raving about how this has been the best day so far. And guess what, it’s only going to get better.