Location: Salt Island, BVI

Today was a gem of a day, and Im so happy I was the skipper for it. My duties as skipper really began yesterday afternoon when I began writing special wake-up appreciation notes for everyone aboard. I woke up around 6:45 am, placed the notes on everyone’s beds next to their sleeping occupants, and proceeded to wake them up by playing Better Together by Jack Johnson and then With a Little Help From My Friends by the Beatles. Seeing as this is likely my last penultimate skipper day, I wanted to give everyone a relaxing and affectionate wake-up. I wanted to show everybody how much I care about them. Once everyone was up and at ’em, head chef Carolyn and sous chefs Sydnei and Jaycee provided us with some rocking breakfast tacos. Right after lunch, a diving group (half of us, including myself) went to explore the wreck of the RMS Rhone, a 19th-century mail ship that grounded on a rock off the coast of Salt Island during a hurricane in the 1860s.

I had a great time diving with Sydnei and Dylan (my first time diving with either of them!) and everyone else in the first group. Finn and I had a lot of fun exploring together and getting good action shots of each other. While my GoPro is unfortunately broken, Audrey was kind enough to lend me hers, and Ellie lent me her case. There was lots of fist-bumping at the wreck. It was just so gnarly!! I think that we are enacting dreams we had as children. I mean, when else could you dive into a 19th-century wreck with some of your closest friends? It doesnt get much better than this. We were all deeply saddened to learn of the history of the vessel – 123 people perished in the sinking, many of whom were strapped into their beds by the crew to prevent them from falling out. Pretty grim. The second group visited the wreck after a brilliant salad lunch, and everyone had an amazing time.

There is a section of the bow that you can actually swim through! The site is filled to the brim with life. Sightings today included turtles, lobsters, barracuda, and much more. Lizzie, who we are all so happy and relieved to have back, worked towards completing her Dive Master. One of my personal appreciations today was watching her, Calum, and Carolyn surface next to Vela in what seemed to be a scenario of two dive students being delirious from Gas Narcosis. Calum and Carolyn were great actors, and I couldnt stop laughing from the deck. Lizzie is a natural teacher and is incredibly patient, kind, and thoughtful.

Another highlight of the day was the swing we set up from the boom of the mainsail, which we rigged to hang far over the starboard side. It was a fun activity to keep us all entertained throughout the day. Boom swang! One staple of my skipper days has consistently been that I conduct our count-offs at the highest speed possible. I make sure everyone is not only physically present in the cockpit but also mentally ready for a CM* speed count-off. Generally, count-offs are a long and arduous process in which many people arent ready, forget to say their numbers, or arent even up on deck. It’s not until the count-off is done that we can eat the meal, so I always like being prompt.

Were all hungry ducks, you see. For dinner, our magnificent chefs whipped up a veggie pasta. So good! My squeeze questions were if you could choose any person in history, real/fictional, to be your imaginary friend, who would it be? And what Olympic sport would you create? Both of these got some great answers. For my imaginary friend, I chose Queen Elizabeth II, but a really spry ninja-like version of her that could follow me up any mountain and shed wisdom from her time as the longest-reigning monarch in British history. I think she would just be funny. She or Morgan Freeman. My Olympic sport was who could snot-rocket the furthest.

Parents, if you think your kids arent snot-rocketers, youre wrong. This boat has turned them into snotrocketers. Nothing you can do about it. Sorry! In other news, we are mentally preparing for the upcoming passage to Bermuda. Tomorrow well motor back to Road Town, where well be given a bit of shore time. I, for one, will be restocking on ramen and downloading some Below Deck on Netflix. Were all incredibly excited but also understandably nervous. Its going to test all of us in ways we havent been tested before. But I believe in ourselves and know that were ready for the challenge.

To my family and friends, I miss and love you dearly. You wont be hearing from me during passage, but just know that I am having the time of my life, and the sea is making me a better person in every way. I carry all of you with me in my heart, and I treasure you with all of my being. But right now, Im a sailor, and though the sea might not need me, I sure need it. The winds are in my sails, and Im a *hoonin!!

Fair winds,
Skipper Tolo

* CM = Classics Mentality (operating with the same mentality we had during the Antigua Classics Regatta)
* Hoonin = Vela-speak for going fast