Challenge Day

Posted on June 20, 2018


It’s the day that gave me the most anxiety when I went through staff training. Our catamaran was handed over to us to sail after just three days at sea. Thank goodness for my team who clearly had a better idea of what was going on than me. The veteran staff also decided to make life difficult for us acting up as disruptive kids who wouldn’t follow instruction to see how we’d manage. Entertaining but also challenging and irritating at times.

Today our very own young prodigals were going to take control of their respective boats. But we were not going to give them unnecessary hurdles. Sailing is a big ask for anyone after only eight days.

They were allowed to ask us just three questions within the day if they needed to, but we suggested they brainstorm first in case they could work out the problems among themselves. They were expected to cook, clean, run and sail their vessel as a team. The only caveat being if we felt unsafe we could step in.

They’d be judged on time keeping; cleanliness, team work, safety and of course everything to do with sailing.

Our kids are not early risers and there were some sullen faces as they struggled to get up and make the 0700 meeting on the staff boat, but the skipper, navigator and mate of Mayotte arrived on time. Then the rest of the crew woke up at 0730. The morning began well as they hit their deadlines firstly breakfast burrito prep, eat and then clean. Kids love to feed the floor. How they miss their mouths and the plate is beyond me. It’s an obstacle course of scrambled eggs, beans, salsa sauce and grated cheese.

Pre departure checks went smoothly, as well as dropping the ball with a safe de dedocking and sail. They even managed an early arrival at Sandy Cay.

But mooring proved a tad difficult as our threader failed to tie the line around the anchor and so the ball was dropped and they had to try once more. Communication got lost and for twenty minutes it turned into a shambles, with some bickering but they recovered and fixed the issue and calmed down. At 1015 they shuttled to shore late, but valuable lessons had been gained.

The rest of the sail had some hiccups, with our sails luffing as our cheerleading skipper got distracted watching a turtle swimming in the channel, went Port, then starboard, the Port again. Eventually we lowered our sails after four hours and Mayotte motored through the channel easily. A lesson the night before about cardinal markers (yellow buoys with black arrows that indicate danger and which direction a vessel should take) helped and meant the kids knew they had to pull to get her not to mess this one up.

“Wait…do we do north of the marker or go any direction but not north, came a question.”

The kids still hadn’t used their three questions that day.

“I feel unsafe, I feel unsafe,” I pipped up.

A quick discussion and a look at the board with an explanation of the rules fixed the problem.

We cruised into Marina Cay with little difficulty arriving second in a fleet of four. I personally was dead impressed that after only a week these young things successfully knew what to do.

A funny moment earlier in the day had me and another mate chuckling when one kid was looking for the frozen chicken in the fridge. A small hint to check the freezer solved that. The chicken has to be boiled as it’s the safest way to cook it all the way through. Their culinary skills needed more careful supervision especially as by the evening they were now exhausted. But let’s face it, no one is Alain Ducasse at the age of 15. On the menu was Jerk chicken, rice and fried plantain. Also a meal probably few of them have even eaten let alone prepared before.

Cleaning – they all definitely need to work on this, but for a group of teenagers they did me proud. They crashed into bed late as everyone was moving at a snail’s pace but fell asleep quickly without even trying.