Category Archives: Sailing

HIOBS Update #3

Though it has only been a few days since our last check in, the crews of the Eliza Sue and Avelinda have accomplished and experienced a lot since our stop at Soldier Cay. Surveys have been conducted by both the reef fish and elkhorn coral research teams at multiple sites within the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The large elkhorn colonies and populations of reef fish at Cambridge Cay and Rocky Dundas provided the perfect opportunity for the teams to put their research skills to use, and snorkeling these vibrant reefs was an incredible experience. We also had the opportunity to snorkel into two caves on Rocky Dundas which were an amazing display of the geology of The Bahamas. During the night following our big day of research, we rafted the two boats together so the two crews could share dinner and enjoy a lesson on stars from Sockeye.
Yesterday we got news of a cold front heading our way which would bring rain and potential thunderstorms, so both boats sailed to a protected cove on the southern end of Pipe Cay and hunkered down beneath our tarps for the day. After a few hours of reading and playing word games, the skies cleared enough for some snorkeling and island exploration. As one group explored the driftwood strewn beach, another snorkeled the rocky shoreline where we successfully captured a lobster (which provided a delicious appetizer for the crew of the Eliza Sue) and swam with a nurse shark. Before dinner, Andrew gave us an informative lesson on weather so we could better understand phenomena like cold fronts and low pressure systems.
Today our crews are re-energized after our relaxed storm day and are ready for more sailing in the sunny and breezy weather that the cold front brought once the rain had passed. We’re looking forward to restocking whatever fresh produce we can get at Black Point and then beginning our journey back north and the adventures that will bring!

HIOBS Update #2

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.
- Kyle
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.

HIOBS group prepares to head out

The HIOBS team in the Cape Eleuthera waters
The HIOBS team in Cape Eleuthera waters

Today marks the start of the Hurricane Island Outward Bound Maine to Bahamas sailing expedition to the Exuma Cays! After 10 days on campus learning about sustainability, the marine environment, and research skills, the students are ready to embark on their 18-day research expedition. They’ve also participated in many service projects over the past week with Deep Creek Middle School. From helping out with after-school sports and the Open Learning Center, to  facilitating team building activities and a beach cleanup, to helping out at the community garden, these students have made a huge impact on our community!

Working at the community garden in Deep Creek
Working at the community garden in Deep Creek

Here’s a quick note from the students about their time here thus far and what their expedition to the Exumas will bring:

“Our trip to The Island School and the Cape Eleuthera Institute is part of an Outward Bound 80 day Environmental Science gap year program. The Island School has not only been a great experience but also an amazing learning environment. The lifestyle at the Island School included ideals and ethics that are similar to those of Outward Bound and to our own. The efforts for sustainable living became a huge part of daily life on campus. From taking navy showers (60 second showers) to an intricate aquaponics system, the efforts made here to save our world for further generations is inspiring.

Another part of daily life here is a daily early morning workout, which is sometimes difficult but vital. These workouts boost both our physical health and advance our work towards a final goal of a 1.7 mile swim.

Exploring the wonders of Eleuthera
Exploring the wonders of Eleuthera

Hands-on learning is emphasized at the Island School. Our lessons include snorkeling, swimming, research, and engaging lessons with PhD scientists. The enthusiasm around this type of learning was both fun and effective, we all leave the classroom with a common understanding of the state of the world. These experiences provided us with a new way of learning and challenged us to apply our newfound knowledge.

The main portion of our expedition will be focused on adding to a long-term data set monitoring the health of reefs in The Bahamas. We, as a group, have been trained in research skills while on campus and are embarking on our 18 day sailing voyage, during which we will apply our new skills throughout the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. One group will be focusing on the growth, population, and health of Elkhorn Coral (a vital part of the coral reef ecosystem) in the Exumas, while the other will collect data on fish populations in the reefs. We are extremely excited and can’t wait to experience this new type of expedition and apply our new knowledge!”

The HIOBS team on Glass Window Bridge in Northern Eleuthera
The HIOBS team on Glass Window Bridge in Northern Eleuthera


Welcome Hurricane Island Outward Bound Fall Gap Year Students!

This Saturday, 15 students will be joining us on campus for a first-of-its-kind program taking place over the next month. This program is similar to the summer term expeditionary program but has some key differences: these students are all on a gap year and thus are in the 18-22 year old range. They started their fall gap semester at the HIOBS campus in Maine in September, and since then have been learning about leadership, wilderness skills, leave no trace principles, teaching methods, earning their Wilderness First Responder certifications, and completing two expeditions- a canoe and a backpacking trip. Pretty awesome students right? We think so too.


Their time on our campus will be the final leg of their fall gap year journey, which will be the marine research and sailing expedition portion of their experience. For the first part of their trip, they will be on our campus learning about marine science, developing field research skills with CEI researchers, and prepping for a sailing expedition where their newfound knowledge of the marine environment will be put to use. They will be heading across the Exuma Sound in two 30-foot sailboats where they will spend 19 days collecting data in the beautiful Exuma Cays. The data collected by the students will contribute to long term projects monitoring populations of reef fish and elkhorn coral.


After returning from the research expedition, the students will have  a week back on campus to put together final research presentations based on the data they collected and to complete a final swimming event. After that, it will be time to celebrate a successful fall gap year semester and leave our campus with a wealth of new knowledge and skills to hopefully help guide their future endeavors.

We could not be more excited to welcome this pioneering group of students to our campus, and we hope you follow along on their adventure by checking back here for updates over the next month!


Expeditionary Summer Term 2016

“In order to discover new Ocean you need the courage to leave sight of the land.”
-Andre Gide

Lying on the decks of the Sharpie Schooners we watched the sun peek over the wide open expanse of Caribbean Sea. Our morning routine began like this most every day. Wake up at six, put away the sleeping boards, sing the Bahamian national anthem, jump in the water for a morning swim, climb back on the boats for breakfast and chores. Finally when tasks were completed and crew members were dressed in full sun protection, the sails came out and we were off.

Our expedition started on the 22nd of June when the expedition team took up residence at the newly constructed basecamp, located behind Water Polo Cut, which features tent platforms, an outdoor shower, fire pit, and a “private” beach. After dinner and some time to settle in, we circled up in the boat house to discuss expectations. That first night we acknowledged what an amazing and challenging opportunity this course would be for everyone involved.

Tents located at base camp on the Island School campus
Tents located at basecamp on the Island School campus

It is my strong belief that to adventure in the natural world one must be present. One must establish a sense of place, a bond and relationship with the land. Place-based education challenges the meaning of education by asking seemingly simple questions: Where am I? What is the nature of this place? Students are presented with the opportunity to become a part of the broader community rather than an indifferent observer. The Island School promotes this type of learning, and this course was no exception.

We spent the first week of the term on campus on learning the basics of sailing skills, marine ecology, and expeditionary living. We were pioneers plotting our journey into uncharted territory. Finally, we were ready. And so, we went.

Our expedition departed Eleuthera in the pre-dawn hours of June 30th, setting the course west 30 nautical miles across the rolling waters of the Exuma Sound. A true epic crossing was had, complete with compass and charts, waves washing over the gunwales, deep blue water, and a touch of seasickness. After eight exhilarating hours, land was sighted. Shortly thereafter we arrived at Halls Pond Cay, our first stop in the Exuma Islands.


Anchored off a white sand beach in turquoise water, an initially exhausted crew got second wind. Our first afternoon in the Exumas was spent relaxing in the shade of trees, and snorkeling the nearby reef. The students and Island School teachers were equally thrilled by the abundance of tropical fish and other marine species. Every so often someone (mostly me) could be heard exclaiming in excitement through their snorkel, a practice that continued for the duration of the trip.

The next morning we traveled to Warderick Wells Cay, headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. We were met by a staff enthusiastic about our endeavor, and happy to spend some time talking with our group. Throughout the afternoon we learned about the marine protected area, fishing regulations, the Bahamas National Trust, and the history of the Exuma Islands. The time spent at headquarters helped the students to conceptualize the importance of their scientific studies on a large scale, and served as the launching point for their research.

At the beginning of the program during our on campus week, students were presented with four on-going research projects through the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI), and then chose to take on the project which most interested them. The topics of these projects included Queen Conch, sea urchins, lionfish, and grouper.

The bulk of our expedition was an experiment in living, working, sailing, and researching as a contained unit. It was an experience in self-awareness, group mentality, and leadership. Personal space is difficult to come by on a 30ft sailboat, especially when it is inhabited by eight people. Throughout our trip we all experienced emotional, mental, and physical obstacles. Our true growth lies in the fact that our group learned to acknowledge and deal with personal frustrations, to be vulnerable, and to rely on and trust in each other. After two weeks exploring the Exuma Islands, our crew crossed open water and returned to Eleuthera, following the path we had taken before. But we were not the same.

Reflection, in my opinion, is a key component in realizing and solidifying change. The final component of our expedition was a 48 hour solo. During this time students had the opportunity to sit alone with their thoughts, write in their journals, and rest. While sitting completely alone and in silence can certainly be an arduous task for most, the students came off of their solo time with a new appreciation of their experience and  understanding of themselves.

Final research presentations were held in Hallig House
Final research presentations were held in Hallig House

Now that the first ever Expeditionary Summer Term has come to an incredibly successful and joyful end, we can reaffirm our initial thoughts to be true. This program was in fact an amazing and challenging opportunity for everyone involved. Some of the highlights of our final week back on the Island School campus include: the final Epic Snorkel physical challenge, research symposium, Parent’s Weekend, and kook of the day assignments. Our graduation and course celebration was filled with laughter, friendship, and even a few tears.

Throughout the past month our 13 pioneer students gained the means and confidence to approach challenges in all aspects of their lives head on, and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so. When asked on the very last day of the course whether they would do it again, each and every one stopped to truly think it over, and then said yes.


“The pioneer island school expeditionary program was a unique experience never to be relived the same way. Through genuine experience learning and harsh hardships that strengthen your fundamentals. You often find who you are and settle your priorities. Being on campus and living and seeing this beautiful lifestyle is undeniably life changing.” – Sebastian Alvarez, EST 16’