At 7:25am on Saturday the 25th of April, the Convoy Eliza Sue and Avelinda, with 14 HIOBS Instructors, departed their anchorage off Key Largo bound for the Bahamas. They spent the next week exploring Nassau, The Exumas, and other parts of the Bahamas. Their purpose was to deliver the two boats to the Island School on Cape Eleuthera where HIOBS is establishing a partnership starting in 2016. The journey was a success and the staff brought back many great memories. The following is an interview with Instructor Andrew Pape upon his return.
What did our staff just accomplish?
We succeeded in safely delivering two engineless open boats over 150 miles from Key Largo to Eleuthera and across the gulf stream.
Why did you decide to sign up for the Crossing?
I decided to sign up for the crossing because of the opportunity for adventure and to do something that pushed me in the same way a sailing course challenges our students. We ask our students to push their boundaries and do more than they think they can- and so often instructors miss their own opportunities to push themselves because they’re working in the field. This trip was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss to have that sort of experience.
What did you all do to prepare?
The biggest thing that was different about this trip was the length of time and the distance we would be offshore. We therefore spent a good deal of time planning our systems to keep us safe while underway – figuring out rigging for a drogue, harnesses for everyone, and additional safety equipment brought on board. More than the safety gear, the spares, and all the food, the thing that was most crucial to our success was the weather planning. A huge amount of time in the days before and constantly during the trip went into analyzing the latest weather information and making decisions about where to go and when. Especially because we were traveling in open boats and wanted to have a conservative float plan, this weather planning was of utmost importance.
Was there anything you were worried about beforehand?
I wondered what the sea state in the gulf stream would be like, and the possibility of squalls during the crossing itself. Something else on my mind was keeping everyone on the boat.
What was the most magical part of the trip?
I always enjoy being underway at night, and perhaps the most magical part of the trip was our overnight passage from Bimini to New Providence. We were broad reaching with a single reef and just flying through the night.
Was there anything you weren’t prepared for?
I was reminded of the student experience in a way I haven’t been for a while which was overall a very positive thing, but not something I was anticipating.
What was your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was the last night before we went into the Island School. We were anchored in Rock Sound on Eleuthera and had just set up the tarp in a downpour. We were sitting around in our protective cocoon, slightly damp, but happy. One by one the musical instruments came out until we had two ukuleles and a melodica as well as many singers. We made snacks with the last of our food, not even eating a real meal, but happier with popcorn, canned peaches and miso soup than anything heartier.