Category Archives: Homeschooling

Ryan, Brandon Crawford and Ronan (Jan. 2018)

BRANDON CRAWFORD BASEBALL CAMP, SCOTTSDALE, AZ – by Ronan

BCraw35 Baseball Camp

BCraw35 Baseball Camp

For Christmas, one of the presents our mom and dad got Ryan and me was two days at “Brandon Crawford Baseball Camp!” We could not believe it! Brandon Crawford is a major league baseball player who plays short stop for the San Francisco Giants. The camp started on January 27th, so Ryan and I had a month to practice our game. Before we knew it, we were flying from St. Lucia, (the West Indies) in the Caribbean, to Phoenix, Arizona, for the baseball camp. The camp was held in Scottsdale, Arizona because that is where the Giants do their spring training. We had an overnight layover in Miami, so it took us two (2) days to get to Arizona from the Caribbean.Ryan & Ronan outside Scottsdale Stadium (Jan. 2018)Ryan & Ronan outside Scottsdale Stadium (Jan. 2018)

DAY 1

On the first day of baseball camp, we woke up early, had breakfast, and drove to Scottsdale. When we got to Scottsdale stadium, we signed in and went to the field, while the parents and family went to the observation deck (Mom, Dad, and Aunt Patti).

Pre-camp gathering

Pre-camp gathering

When we gathered on the field at the start of the day, we were very excited to see San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, as well as San Francisco Giants Coach Chad Chopp! Coach Chopp is the Giants left-handed batting practice pitcher and a video replay analyst. There were also many other coaches and assistants.San Fracisco Giants' shortstop Brandon Crawford and Coach Chad Chopp (Jan. 2018)San Francisco Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford and Coach Chad Chopp  (Jan. 2018)

The first thing we did was play two ball. Two ball is a game where you throw two baseballs to someone from one hand, and if they do not catch both of them, they get a point. You have to try to get as little points as possible. Next, we did warm ups. First, we ran from one side of the field to the other, and then they organized us in lines to throw and catch to one another.

Line throw catch warm up

Line throw catch warm up

Then, one by one all the kids ran forward doing lunge stretches with their legs. Next, all the kids in the camp made one enormous circle. The coaches had us hold a different position with our arms for ten seconds at a time. Warm up circleWarm up circle

The coaches then organized us into small groups by age. There were many different stations that practiced different exercises with different coaches. It was amazingly well run! They had a set time of when to rotate to a different station. There was an outfield station, a Wiffle Ball station, a base running station, an off a tee batting station, an underhand pitching batting station, an overhand pitching batting station, a pitching station, an in-fielding station, and a bunting station.

Out Fielding station

Out Fielding station

In the out-fielding station, they taught us how to catch balls properly. We also learned about “drop steps.” A drop step is when you take a step back to your right or your left depending on where the ball is coming from. This allows you to easily run backwards or forward for the ball.

Ronan at bat at the Wiffle ball station

Ronan at bat at the Wiffle ball station

At the Wiffle Ball station, we practiced hitting Wiffle Balls with a small bat, and then hitting them with the bat we brought.Ronan getting batting tips from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)Ronan getting batting tips from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

In the batting cages, everyone hit baseballs off of tees for practice. After batting off of tees, we hit balls that were thrown underhand by a coach. Next, we hit balls that were thrown overhand by a coach.

At the base running station, the coaches taught that you should tag the inside corner of first base  when you are going to keep running for second and same with all the other bases.

While at the pitching station, the coaches taught us how to deliver the ball properly. At the bunting station, we were taught how to hold the bat while attempting to bunt. While at the in-fielding station, we practiced fielding ground balls at short stop and throwing them to the first baseman.

Infield station - Ryan and Brandon Crawford at short stop & Ronan at 3rd base

Infield station – Ryan and Brandon Crawford at short stop & Ronan at 3rd base

At the end of the first day of camp, they handed out prizes to the kids who did especially well.

End of Day 1 gathering

End of Day 1 gathering

The coaches also talked about the importance of appreciation of team, family and teachers. Our “homework” assignment was to do a “random act of kindness.”

Aunt Patti, Ronan, Randy & Ryan (Jan. 2018)

Aunt Patti, Ronan, Randy & Ryan (Jan. 2018)

After camp, when we got back to the hotel, Ryan, Mom, and I decided to hike Mt. Tempe which was right outside our hotel.

Mount Tempe, AZ (elevation 1495')

Mount Tempe, AZ (elevation 1495′)

Along the trail, we saw lots of cactuses and other hikers. When we got to the top, we stopped and enjoyed the magnificent view.

Going up and down Mt. Tempe only took about an hour. Next, we went to the hot tub on the roof of the hotel. We had an amazing day!

DAY 2

On the second day of camp, we woke up bright and early to get ready. Just like the day before, we drove to Scottsdale stadium in Scottsdale with our mom, dad and Aunt Patti. We started the day off with more of the game, two ball. Then we did warm ups and went to our assigned stations. However, on the second day they did the stations a little differently than before. The coaches handed out prizes, such as bubble gum and sunflower seeds, to kids that did well. While in the batting cages, I was very excited when I got a tip from Brandon Crawford himself! He told both Ryan and me that we should swivel our back leg while batting for more power. If I had to choose, I think I learned the most at the pitching station on the second day. One of the coaches showed me that I should make a “W” shape with my arms while delivering the pitch. This helped improve my pitching accuracy tremendously! At the end of the day, the coaches handed out prizes again.

End of Day 2 pep talk and Q&A session

End of Day 2 pep talk and Q&A session

I was very happy when I got picked for a prize by the pitching coach. My prize was a Gaylord Perry mini-statue. Gaylord Perry was one of the pitchers on the Giants who has been elected to the baseball Hall of Fame. After I got my prize, Brandon Crawford walked over to Ryan and I and asked us our names.

End of Day 2 pep talk, Q&A and prizes

End of Day 2 pep talk, Q&A and prizes

Then he chose my brother Ryan to get a prize too! Ryan got a Bruce Bochy gnome. Bruce Bochy is the Giants manager. The gnome looks hilarious! After giving out prizes, everyone formed a line to get an item of their choice signed by Brandon Crawford, along with a picture with him. Ryan and I had baseballs signed, and took pictures with him!

Ronan shaking hands with Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ronan shaking hands with Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ronan with his signed ball from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ronan with his signed ball from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)Ryan with his baseball signed by Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ryan with his baseball signed by Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ryan, Brandon Crawford and Ronan (Jan. 2018)

Ryan, Brandon Crawford and Ronan (Jan. 2018)

Following the autographs and pictures, we returned to the hotel. The whole camp was an experience of a lifetime! My brother and I now have signed balls from three (3) SF Giant players, Willie Mays, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford! (See Willie Mays, one of a kind (2015/11/17) and A Giant Among Giants, Christmas Arrives Early in Grenada (2015/12/20).

To top it off, all of the proceeds from the camp were donated to the Buster and Kristen Posey Fund. Buster Posey is a teammate of Brandon Crawford’s and is the catcher for the San Francisco Giants. The Buster and Kristen Posey Fund is a charity that provides grants to research hospitals and organizations that support children diagnosed with pediatric cancer. To check out, or donate to the Buster and Kristen Posey Fund, click here. For information on future Brandon Crawford Baseball camps, click here.

MOVIE TRAILER – by Ronan(10) and Ryan (11)

Ronan (10) and Ryan (11) made a “movie trailer” for our Caribbean cruising adventures. We added it to our “VIDEOS” page at: https://pilotsdiscretion.com/videos/. We are also sharing it here, below. I think we found our new videographers! They had a lot of fun making it. We hope you enjoy watching it! Click on the below image to play.

We have also created a dedicated YouTube channel  where we have compiled the videos from our blog, and uploaded additional videos from our journey.  To view the videos click on the link below (or copy and paste into browser):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC94z5hCIrRiEvY8MTJegTbA.

Junior Captain in Training – by Ronan

Last week after a nice long hike behind the Rain Forest Café, in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, I was thrilled to learn that I was going to have the opportunity to captain and command our Sea Ray 480 motor yacht from Capella Marina, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, to Rodney Bay Marina, Rodney Bay, St Lucia (with appropriate supervision of course)!

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia (spot Pilots’ Discretion)

While driving a boat, you do not just put it on autopilot and hope that you arrive at your destination before sunset. You have to be on high alert, at all times, for what is around you, including being on the lookout for other vessels, fishing pots, and shoals. You have to always be paying attention to your electronics and navigational instruments.

On the trip to Rodney Bay, according to our Automated Identification System (AIS) and the radar, I was on a potential collision course with a sailing vessel. Using Randy’s wise advice which was “don’t hit anything,” I switched from autopilot to standby which allowed me to control the vessel manually. After using two of the most important gadgets on board, which are the wheel and the throttles, I managed to get a safe distance away from the sailing vessel.

Pilots' Discretion Track from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Pilots’ Discretion Track from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Only a couple of nautical miles from Rodney Bay, with the help of my lookouts, who were my Mom and my brother Ryan, we located and avoided some fishing pots. When we got to Rodney Bay we hovered just before the channel entrance to the marina so that the crew could get the lines and fenders ready for docking. Finally, we safely docked at Rodney Bay Marina.

Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

IGY Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

With a lot of practice, time, and dedication, learning how to drive a boat is not as hard as you may think. In my opinion, captaining the boat from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay in St. Lucia was one of the coolest experiences ever.

Dive flag, St. Lucia

Learning to Scuba Dive in St. Lucia – by Ryan

Dive St. Lucia logo

Dive St. Lucia

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to breathe underwater? Well, I did. That is why, after having it highly recommended to us by some of our friends, my family and I signed up for the PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) Open Water Dive course at Dive Saint Lucia. Dive Saint Lucia, in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, was the nicest dive shop we have ever seen. All of the facilities were designed and built specifically with scuba diving training in mind. The dive boats are brand new and all of the equipment is first rate. As a result, we were looking forward to starting the dive course.

After completing the online Open Water Diver PADI course and final exam, we showed up at the dive shop ready to go. Our instructor (Julia) helped us pick out the equipment we would be using for the duration of the course.

Learning about the scuba equipment, St. Lucia

Learning about the scuba equipment, St. Lucia

Ronan only took the trial course in the pool so he will have an idea of what it will be like when he and our Mom get certified when we come back next year. Everyone in our group learned how to set up all of the equipment which would prove to be an essential skill during the course of our training.

Ronan learning about the gear, Dive St. Lucia

Ronan learning about the gear, Dive St. Lucia

To demonstrate that we were strong enough swimmers to dive, we had to swim 15 laps in the pool and tread water or float for 10 minutes.

Ten laps to get started

Fifteen laps to get started

After that, our group, plus the instructor and training instructor, did scuba exercises at the bottom of the pool. Our first breaths underwater were amazing!

Time to get in the pool, Dive St. Lucia

Time to get in the pool, Dive St. Lucia

Ryan & Randy's first breaths under the water

Ryan & Randy’s first breaths under the water

Ronan's first breaths under the water, Dive St. Lucia

Ronan’s first breaths under the water, Dive St. Lucia

We did exercises underwater like fill and clear your mask of water, surface with your buddy breathing from your octopus (alternate air source), and inflating and deflating our Buoyancy Control Devices (BCD). At the end of the first confined (in the pool) water dives we felt like we understood the material that was taught and were ready for the open water (ocean) dives the next day.

Lessons in the pool, Dive St. Lucia

Lessons in the pool, Dive St. Lucia

Lessons in the pool, Dive St. Lucia

Lessons in the pool, Dive St. Lucia

In the morning of the second day we had to do some drills in the pool before getting on the boat. We practiced the long step into the water which was the technique we would be using to get off the dive boat into the ocean.

Ryan stepping into the pool, St. Lucia

Ryan stepping into the pool, St. Lucia

After that we took a boat ride to the south side of the island to the dive site.

Ryan on the dive boat, St. Lucia

Ryan on the dive boat, St. Lucia

We were one bay north of the Pitons. Once we were there we were already geared up so we got into the water.

We descended onto a sandy bottom and practiced some of the drills that we did in the pool in the ocean. Then, when we were done with the exercises, we swam underwater around the surrounding reef.

It was very cool! We saw moray eels, sea snakes, and sea spiders!

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The deepest we went on our first open water dive was 12 meters (40 feet). That is the maximum that I am allowed to dive because I am still not old enough to be allowed to go the depth of an older (over 14) PADI open water diver, which is 20 meters (60 feet).

The second dive site was a ten minute boat ride north. We used the same procedure and got our gear ready before we got there so we could just get right in. When we jumped in we descended almost right after. Once we got to the bottom we did more scuba drill exercises. After completing those we did a big circle around the reef. We saw similar sea life to what we saw on the first dive. Later when we ascended we practiced the tired diver tow on the surface. Randy towed me a quarter mile back to the boat! The first two open water dives were amazing and we were excited that we had two more dives the next day.

Dive instructor "Julia" showing chart of dive site

Dive instructor “Julia” showing chart of Anse Cochon North dive site

The next day, when we got to the dive shop, we did not have to jump in the pool or set up gear. It was just straight to the boat after getting briefed on how to use an underwater compass. The dive sites on the second day were not as far but we did have to stop in Marigot Bay again to pick up some people. The first dive site was Anse Cochon north. Once we got off the boat and descended we practiced taking off our masks completely and putting them back on underwater and navigating underwater with a compass. Then, like the other dives, after doing the work we got to play by checking out the reef. On this dive we saw aquatic life like shrimp, jaw fish, and coral. After making our safety stop and ascending to the surface we did a drill where we swim staying on an assigned heading with the compass. The boat came and picked us up and brought us to the second dive site which was Anse Cochon south. The boat dropped a few people off in one spot, some other people off in another spot, and then finally we got to hop in. This was our last dive for the PADI Open Water Diver course. There were no drills or exercises on our last dive. We explored the huge reef along the coast line. In my opinion our last dive was the most fun and the coolest out of all the dives. We saw underwater plants that look like trees, flounder, and even lionfish!

When we surfaced we were happy because we were now PADI certified open water divers!

Randy & Ryan after completing their open water scuba certification dive, St. Lucia

Randy & Ryan after completing their open water scuba certification dive, St. Lucia

Learning to dive is an excellent accomplishment and we cannot wait to extend our knowledge and experience in the diving community!

(2014) Ryan swapping the quarantine flag & courtesey flag, West End Bahamas

Quarantine and Courtesy Flags – by Theresa

Yellow Q (Quarantine) Flag

Yellow Q (Quarantine) Flag

One of our many pre-departure preparation items was the purchasing of the yellow Q (quarantine) flag, along with courtesy flags for each of the countries that we would be visiting, either intentionally, or potentially due to some change of course or boat maintenance requirement. International law mandates that vessels fly the yellow quarantine flag upon entering territorial waters of another country. The yellow Q flag must remain flying until the vessel and its crew clear customs and immigration at which point it is taken down and replaced with the host country’s courtesy flag.

Since our vessel is registered and flagged in the United States, in accordance with proper flag etiquette, we proudly fly Old Glory from the highest place of honor on our vessel, her stern. IMG_0059.JPG

Courtesy flags are flown at the next highest place of honor, e.g. a starboard halyard, or in our case a jack staff on our bow.

Flag Duty

Flag Duty

As a supplement to the boys’ homeschooling, we have assigned them the duty of raising and lowering the quarantine and courtesy flags as appropriate to our immigration status and our host country du jour.

We have also assigned them the task of researching and keeping a journal about the meaning of the flag for each country that we visit. This week they learned that the aquamarine stripes at the top and bottom of the Bahamian National Flag depict the colors of the Bahamian skies and water while the yellow stripe in the middle represents the shore. The black triangle on the left of the flag signifies unity. The courtesy flag for the Bahamas have the Bahamas National Flag on the top left corner of a red flag with a cross on it.

HOMESCHOOLING

After significant research into various homeschooling programs, we have decided to enroll the boys in the accredited “Calvert Education Home school” curriculum (http://homeschool.calverteducation.com/). We chose the Calvert curriculum both for its academic rigor and the flexibility it affords to accommodate issues that are particular to homeschooling while afloat (i.e., intermittent internet access and varying schedules). We have added a dedicated “Homeschooling” page under the submenu “About Us” “The Boys” “Homeschooling” above (https://pilotsdiscretion.com/about/the-boys/homeschooling/. The dedicated homeschooling page contains more detailed information on why we made the decision to choose the Calvert curriculum.  We are all very excited to begin our homeschooling afloat and will post future updates as the school year progresses!