Friday, July 19, 2019
Hello from Dragon Bay, Grenada!
The crew of Cavendish woke up bright and early today when the wakeup song played before 6 am. We quickly put all of our sleeping stuff back in our cabins and sat down to a breakfast of cereal and granola. After a short cleanup, we were ready to get our day started! We began by setting up our dive gearing, reminding ourselves of how our kits go together and learning the Broadreach way of setting up to dive. Then, we all donned our PFDs (personal flotation devices, much like life jackets) and got ready to move our boat for the very first time!
We took Cavendish off the dock and motored over to the fuel dock to fill up on diesel. Learning about how to dock and fuel the boat allowed us to check off the first few skills of our IYT (International Yacht Training) sailing certification, which we'll be working on for the next 20 days. Then, we cast off and left the confines of the Port Louis marina, heading out to open water to sail towards Dragon Bay. We all agreed that we were so happy to be out on the water, with the wind in our faces and the waves rocking our boat. The sail was short and gentle, and we soon found ourselves moored up in the bay, where our local dive guide joined us.
Grenada, where we are currently located, has a wonderful and very well-maintained marine park which requires us to dive with their local guides. So, we got to meet up with a guide from a nearby shop, who came aboard our boat and told us a little bit about our dive site. We set up to dive the Molinere Sculpture Garden, a well-known set of underwater sculptures just off Dragon Bay. The sculptures sit in the sand surrounded by mounds of healthy coral, where schools of fish and huge numbers of cuttlefish swim about. Our guide took us around to all the different sculptures, including the very famous circle of men and women holding hands. It was a long dive, and we made time to do some review of Open Water skills as well, like mask removal and replacement and regulator recovery. This allowed the dive to serve as our checkout dive, refreshing all of our dive skills in preparation for the heavy dive-focused days to come. Everyone crushed their skills easily, getting the dive instructors super excited for a trip full of awesome and challenging dives!
After diving, we moved to an overnight mooring ball, with the students handling the mooring process for the first time - another IYT skill we're working on! We ate a nice lunch of sandwiches, cleaned up, and then jumped right into more dive training. This time, our goal was to practice drift diving, which is what we'll be doing on nearly every dive of this trip. We talked about procedures and safety, including our ten minute timer: before every drift dive, once gear is set up and everyone is changed, we set a timer giving us all ten minutes to gear up, get set up on the back steps, and get in the water. It allows us to dive some super cool and current-y sites, but it can definitely be fast-paced and challenging, which is why we practice! With this group, it only took a single try - within eight minutes everyone was ready to get in the water. We instructors were super impressed with all of the teamwork that we saw, and we loved watching everyone get excited to go diving.
Once we were finished with that practice, we had some free time. Students went snorkeling, swam around the boat, and paddled around on our paddleboard, until we all reconvened to work on some Knowledge Reviews. Even though they're a bit like homework, they went quickly, and everyone agreed that they weren't too bad. Just as we were finishing up, our skipper arrived with our final crew member, Chloe, who we were all super stoked to meet! She easily joined our crew, mixing with her old and new friends onboard our boat. We did our program orientation with our whole boat on the bow of Cavendish, finishing up learning about our trip and our collective expectations for the next 3 weeks. Then, we headed back to the sculpture garden to snorkel, with everyone bringing their cameras to take pictures as we freedove and swam around the sculptures.
When it came time to return to our boat, we were given the option for a dinghy pickup or a very, very long swim. Happy after our snorkel, and loving our time in the water, we all chose to swim! It was super fun making our way back to our boat. Once we got back, it was time for showers and a bit of free time while our cooks got started on dinner. We made a lovely meal of pasta and red sauce, which we all agreed was delicious as we sat down to eat together in our cockpit. After eating, we talked through our glums and glows, the low and high points of our days. For many people, glows were things like the dive, snorkeling, meeting up with old friends, and the beautiful sunset. We all felt that it was an incredible day, and that we couldn't wait to see what tomorrow would bring!
After dinner, we did cleanup, filled out our dive logs, and then headed up to the bow to eat a delicious vanilla cake. All in all, today was incredible. Here's hoping tomorrow is even better!
John, Leah, and Amelie