Location: Barbuda

It was my distinct pleasure to begin today by waking everyone up with some lively guitar playing at an early wake-up of 5:45 am so we could begin our trip to Barbuda. Once rousted out of bed, we hoisted sail and began the watch shifts for the trip, falling into a now easy system only somewhat disturbed by a few people’s return of seasickness. What was unique about today’s passage was that we were not going to use the GPS but rather take fixes while we were still close to land and then use dead reckoning till we saw land again. “Taking a fix” requires focusing on some landmark of known location (a.k.a. it’s on the chart) and using a compass to see what direction it’s in. By drawing rays from several fixed points, one can relatively accurately plot a point where they all intersect (or make a triangle if you’ve done three). Dead reckoning is a simple calculation that basically states, “This is where we were an hour ago, we’ve been following this course and going this speed, so we should be here.” Such useful skills we recently acquired in our MTE class only the day before, but I’d like to think we’re a competent bunch and fairly capable. These methods obviously don’t account for current, and this explains why we were a bit off in our final point, but we made it in just fine. Barbuda has many small reefs around it, so as an extra precaution, Casey went up to the crow’s nest to look down from above, and I decided to follow. Looking down at everyone busying around the deck while flying way up in the breeze was very relaxing and a nice break from hauling on things, particularly since I’ve had a nasty run-in with the main sheet that left me pretty blistered. It also provided a great view of things like jumping eagle rays and the advancing extremely flat land. Barbuda is formed by the erosion of a subducted tectonic plate, so it has the postcard-perfect fine sandy beaches people like to think of in the Caribbean. After dropping two anchors, since it’s very windy, people shuttled off to the beach or to go snorkeling and generally recuperate. This evening we are slated to finish hearing people’s oceanography presentations. I hope everyone is excited to hear mine on hydrothermal vents! (oh boy, oh boy)