Last year while cruising around the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), we spent a significant amount of time developing and honing the boys’ maritime skills. (April 17, 2015 post, “Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills”.) The BVIs is an excellent cruising location to advance one’s mariner skills as all but one of the islands are within eyesight of one another. It was here that Ryan and Ronan mastered picking up mooring balls, keeping their dock lines neat and how to safely maneuver the 25 hp dinghy.
Wow, what a difference a year makes! With each passing day, the boys have been devouring their marine environment, learning about all of the various systems on board. While they are still adept at previously learned skills, they are now more interested in how to run “the big boat.”
They are planning routes and plotting courses between the islands. They navigate the vector (digitally created layered charts) and raster (scanned paper charts) charts with ease and are more familiar with the Rules of Navigation and crossings than some of the adult boaters that we have encountered.
When not running the boat, they are often tinkering about in the engine room helping Randy with some boat project or another. After taking on fuel they are responsible for managing and running the fuel polishing system. They also help with basic maintenance projects such as changing the generator oil and filter, changing the water maker filters, and washing down the boat after a day at sea.
As our world revolves around the weather, monitoring sea and wind conditions has become routine for us all. While the Caribbean is mostly sunny, every good mariner has foul weather gear close at hand.
On sunnier days, the boys get a charge watching our battery voltage increase from our solar panels. They understand how the solar power is harnessed and distributed throughout the boat. They also now wholly understand the mechanics of the patent pending solar powered picnic table catamaran in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.
Ryan and Ronan routinely monitor the VHF radio and listen to transmissions between the Coast Guard and vessels in distress. They know that having capable crew on deck is important to running the boat safely and efficiently. Having witnessed other vessels in distress only heightens their safety awareness. Nobody ever wants to return to the dock like the boat we saw being towed in on air bags in Nanny Cay!
As the saying goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Hence, as we have been cruising around the BVIs, honing the boys’ mariner skills, the boys have also been honing their having fun skills. They have reconnected with friends met during our previous stay in the BVIs, as well as having made some new ones.
We have thoroughly enjoyed cruising the British Virgin Islands, and are grateful, once again, for the maritime lesson opportunities they have provided for the boys. Alas, weather, time and immigration restrictions have us pressing on. We have discussed our go forward cruising plans and have decided that at the next appropriate weather window we will be continuing our Caribbean journey heading south towards Grenada where we will ride out the next hurricane season. Our next port will be in St. Martin where we will post additional updates.