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Captain’s Log: Whale I Never!

diagram, mapThe Basics

The boat: Speculation, a 2018 FP Helia 44’ 

Crew: Captain Trevon

ASA Students: Bhav, Nike, Ben, Glen, and Vicky

Courses Completed:  ASA 101 (Basic Keel Boat), ASA 103 (Basic Coastal Cruising), ASA 104  (Bareboat Cruising), ASA 114 (Cruising Catamaran), 

Day 1: Setting Goals

This sailing crew jumps aboard Speculation with a wide variety of sailing experience and goals! Vicky and Glen frequently charter boats, however, they’ve never sailed on a catamaran before. They are looking forward to a bareboat charter in the Mediterranean later in the year but need to get their ASA certifications (and catamaran experience) first. Bhav, Ben, and Nike are all new to boating! However, they are looking forward to making sailing a passion— this class is the first step in their boating future!

Day 2: Accruing an Audience

The crew sets sail and works on getting their “sea legs.” Once everyone is comfortable aboard and understands the safety gear, it’s time to practice skills! The group sails to Water Island and practices sailing the catamaran under power. Once arriving, it’s time to pick up mooring. The crew amasses an audience as everyone practices. The crowd seems slightly bewildered that the crew takes 2 hours to moor— but that’s how you learn and the crew takes it in great stride! By afternoon, the crew says goodbye to their fans and heads to Careening Cove. 

Day 3: A Whale of a Day

Day 3 involved lots of learning! Captain Jalil taught the group some tricks for remembering the rules of the road, discussed where to find sources for weather and navigation, and taught the crew a few knots. After soaking in all the new terms, knowledge, and skills for the day— it was time to set sail. The crew raised a single-reefed main and single-reefed jib in 15-knot easterlies and then practiced tacking. As the crew sailed south of Cow Rock, they spotted whales! Everyone was excited to jump in the water and see what other creatures they could see so they anchored down in secret harbor and enjoyed the afternoon swimming in the warm, inviting water. 

Day 4: Off to St. John

On the learning agenda for day 4 was emergency procedures. The crew started off the morning by learning about VHF radio use and man-overboard (MOB) recovery. Captain Jalil also gave the group an overview of how engines and their supporting systems work before finishing up the lesson with a few more knots! By late morning, the crew set sail through Current Cut, the area between St. Thomas and Greater St. James. The crew practiced tacking through Pillsbury Sound and ended the day with MOB drills in the wide open area south of Jost van Dyke. A successful trip to St. John with plenty of knowledge gained! 

Day 5: Beauty All Around 

The group woke up to stunning views of Hawksnest Bay, with barely anyone around to break the pristine silence and beauty of the sunrise. However, the day of learning did have to begin at some point! Around 10am, the crew began learning about aids to navigation, lights, and sound signals. They practiced plotting a course and learned two more knots— the Trucker’s Hitch and the Sheet Bend! After setting sail, the group practicing reefing, tacking, and MOB recovery before picking up mooring in Francis Bay. The beauty of Francis Bay did not disappoint either! There were a series of beautiful boats moored next to each other, with their silhouettes beautifully reflecting against the sunset. “It were amazing,” Vicky said. 

Day 6: Whale I Never! 

Day 6 was all about Dead Reckoning (DR)! DR is a process sailors use to determine current position based on past position. The crew learned how to keep a DR log, practiced plotting a course from a sample log, used a hand-bearing compass to find a line of position (LOP), and fix LOPs on the fly. The group set sail and put their DR skills to the test. By late morning, the crew had even spotted whales again! “Again!” Captain Trevon exclaimed. “How lucky are we?”  

Day 7: Pre-Travel Jitters

The crew’s last day together came with some pre-travel jitters— how could it already be time to leave?! However, Captain Jalil quickly took their minds off the upcoming departure by keeping the crew busy with more knot-tying! In the morning they learned off-book knots like the Tugman’s Hitch, Bowline-on-a-bite, Fisherman’s Bend, and the Howard Dinghy Knot before arriving in Crown Bay and saying goodbyes.