Location: UW to Antigua

Ash Here.

Jk. It’s Sam. Sort of. We’re probably the two worst people to write this blog, as we’re both staff. And this blog is going to be all about one thing – the student-led passage!! We are currently underway to Antigua right now – on what we thought was going to be a 24hr passage, then a 13 hr passage, and now probably back to a 25-hour passage.

The student-led passage is an incredibly cool experience – for students and staff alike. It’s something we work towards all semester, and when it finally happens, while often chaotic and full of surprises, it’s usually one of my favorite parts of the semester. To start it off, the students elect their leadership team – a Skipper, Navigator, and three Watch Team Leaders. This goes around. Our team is Skipper: Eva, Navigator: Doron, Watch Team 1 Leader: Julia, Watch Team 2 Leader: Katie, and Watch Team 3 Leader: Griffin. Then, the skipper and navigator work to come up with a sail plan and passage plan, putting together factors like wind speed and angle, required/anticipated arrival time (and thus required speed of the vessel), any hazards, etc. Then, they coordinate with their Team Leaders and make it all happen.

From start to finish, the students lead – and I mean all the way from start to finish. They get the boat prepped by their chosen departure time, lead the anchor raise, lead the sail raises (and raise the sails according to the sail plan created by the Skipper), and continuously monitor and watch our passage/the vessel as a whole throughout the entirety of the journey. Things to look out for – the wind coming straight from the island we are trying to get to (Ocean Star does not love an upwind sail); other vessels with a CPA (closest point of approach) of 0.1nm, requiring a surprise tack; the alternator belt malfunctioning and thus stopping the batteries from charging with the engine – better know when to turn the gen on; a new estimated arrival time of 01:00 into an anchorage that we don’t want to anchor in the dark in; plus you’re average look out for squalls, buoys, wind shifts, etc. Yes, those are all real things that happened, and our student team handled them beautifully!
You know what they say – the only thing you can definitely count on going to plan is nothing going to plan (or something like that)

We’re still sailing around out here – I can see Antigua’s glow in the distance (crazy how well you can see light pollution from out in the ocean). I’m about to head to bed, but I’m already so impressed and can’t wait to see what the morning brings. If all goes to plan (ha), given our current watch schedule, I’ll actually wake up in Falmouth Bay, Antigua.