This morning the crews of the Avelinda and the Eliza Sue woke up to another beautiful sunrise in the Exuma Cays. After 6 days of sailing, snorkeling, island and cave exploring, and taking in the beautiful views of crystal clear blue water of the Exumas, we find ourselves anchored at O’Brien’s Cay. Today we’re refilling our water jugs thanks to the generosity of Sandy MacTaggert on Soldier Cay, and our research teams will finally be able to put their skills to use at a snorkel site called “Sea Aquarium.” We’re looking forward to conducting more research in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (the oldest marine protected area in The Bahamas) over the next few days and continuing to explore the islands over the next 11 days. See below for some daily journal entries from the group!
Nov 9: Day 2 – Eliza Sue
Crossing the Sound Part 1: The Exumas Strike Back
We’ve made it to…well its a “U-shaped island thing” exclaimed Hannah as we sailed into harbor amongst the Exumas. About 85% of the boat watched Andrew fillet a bar jack as the other 15% managed to weave us through deep, deep, treacherous waves and reefs. Grant was coughing (about to puke?), Kyle was still steering after 4 hours of bring stuck at the tiller, Tom was somewhere in the dark depths of the head, and Hannah was resisting the urge to sing songs about hippos as we finally dropped anchor. We had woken up at midnight, learned about stars, invented a blue sail formation, got concerned about the possibility of trump being president, laughed about the idea of Trump being President, then realized the joke was on us and Trump was going to be president.
Crossing the Sound Part 2: Revenge of the Bar Jack
Got concerned again, eventually saw land, fished and caught nothing, fished and caught something, arrived at anchor, ate our fish (shoutout to our cooks Marcus and Jacob), swam, swam with iguanas, found crafty new spoons (shells), then began dinner prep.
Crossing the Sound Part 3: A Donald’s New Hope
We laughed together, we slept together in a PG sort of way, we excelled together. Tom ate cheese and maybe almost liked it, Kyle rocked his aviators and put everyone else on board to shame, Ben wore her superman hat like all experienced sailors do, Kelly didn’t get spit on by Tom and successfully answered a barrage of consecutive questions about her gopro attachment lens. Jacob continued to do as Jack Sparrow does and made the power move of not swimming (he knew the poop was coming
PS: Today was actually the day Donald Trump became president. Thank god we’re in a protected area because he’s building a wall and the parrotfish are paying for it.
PPS: Today was absolutely epic- one of the most memorable days of my life, and I’m glad I got to spend it with the young motley crew of the Eliza Sue.
Peace, Love, and Quesadilla Cheese,
Jeff the Cleaner
Nov 12 – Day 5 – Avelinda
8:30am, beautiful morning… 6:00am wakeup call for swimming lessons with Andrew and then pancakes and dessert rice for breakfast made by Jack & Jack. The boat smells of salty citrus and I love it.
8:30pm, enjoying a long anchor watch and remembering the great day we had… Exploring a rocky cave and getting in a short snorkel, “hiking” around a few ruins and adventuring through a poisonwood infested swamp to a beautiful beach (with just a bit of washed up trash scattered around (Andrew found a gopro from the Island School). It was an eventful day topped off with Jack and Jack’s calzones, which were delicious of course. Looking forward to more adventures tomorrow!
Nov 13 – Day 6 – Eliza Sue
Part 1: The Tomcat Begins
This morning our fearless leader Tom bid the masses to rise and enter the water. The crew swam in somewhat of an organized circle for about half an hour. After the swim the group demolished part of a ration of cereal before setting off.
Part 2: The Tomcat Rises
We set off on our day, Tom steering and me at the bow watch. The trip began with me promptly getting us stuck on a sandbar and Ben getting stuck in the head yet again. She then fulfilled her quota of pushups on one arm by pumping the head for half an hour. Get swole Ben.
Part 3: The Plague
After sitting on the bow for approximately 5 hours I returned to seeing half the crew suffering from swine flu which was transferred from the ocean waves that hit Jacob, who then infected Grant, who then infected Marcus. So it goes. Marcus then orally donated his daily ration of food into the ocean. The ocean is used to, but not fond of such gifts.
Part 4: questionable
Marcus cooks after yacking hours before…questionable. A red-faced Tomcat swears he applied sunscreen…also questionable. Jeff completes his pushups as Jacob explains his very questionable driving habits, extremely questionable. Dinner is close to being made, will we eat it all? Not a question.
Nov 14 – Day 7 – Avelinda
The Journey So Far
Our journey began on November 8 with loading the Avelinda and Eliza Sue and preparing our groups for an 18-day expedition. Not knowing what to anticipate, we grabbed our oars and rowed away from The Island School. Over the course of the first day on the boats we learned how to rig and hoist our fore and main sails, read the wind, understand the tides, organize and take care of the boat, steer and rescue “Bob” our frequently overboard fender. Cooking on the boats posed a new challenge with our food stored throughout the bilge underneath us and our only stove located in the stern of the boat. With this challenge came delicious meals from night 1. After anchoring off the whale tail of Eleuthera we had our first of nightly stargazing and celestial navigation lessons led by Sockeye. After, we set up the boards and fell into a fitful 2 hours of sleep in preparation for our crossing of the Exuma sound. We sailed throughout the night giving us time to get to know our instructor Sockeye as well as admiring the stars and watching the glowing plankton light up the water as we sailed. This magical night sail was the perfect beginning to our expedition. After the first day on the boat we settled into a routine starting with a daily 6am wake up call followed by a morning swim workout and breakfast. Every day we rinse and sanitize the boat, make a navigation plan considering wind, tides, and bearings, and create a plan for the day. In the past week we have swam with stingrays, rowed through a mangrove creek, snorkeled reefs and a plane wreck, and explored countless islands of the Exuma Cays with breathtaking white sand beaches.
With our instructors’ extensive knowledge of marine science, sailing, and boat living, and overall guidance on important life skills such as self reliance, leadership, and compassion, we sail into our final 11 days of expedition. We are excited about taking full advantage of everything the Exuma Cays has to offer, most importantly our fish and coral research which is part of an ongoing coral reef monitoring project in The Bahamas.