Sail Caribbean and ARK

Turtle tagging and data comarine biologyllection is always a highlight for our Sierra and Foxtrot program participants.  This activity would not be possible without training and support form the Conservation and Fisheries Department and the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK).  We are excited about our strengthened partnership with ARK this summer, and we hope this relationship will only strengthen for years to come.

Association of Reef Keepers is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and sustainability of the BVI’s natural marine resources.  Although the organization is entering its twenty-second year, recent changes provided the infrastructure needed to support the mission of ARK.  Under the leadership of Marine Biologist Shannon Gore, ARK will educate and involve the community and provide resources to mitigate the ever-increasing threats to the natural resources of the BVI.

There are several main project on the horizon for ARK.  The Virgin Island Sea Turtle Programme has been around since the 1980’s, but ARK’s involvement will help the BVI government meet their program goals over the next 3-5 years.

Another project is their Marine Monitoring and Restoration Project.  The biggest component of this project is the establishment of coral nurseries in the BVI.  With funding and support from the Nature Conservancy, ARK will work with the BVI government to propagate and protect damaged coral in local nurseries.  Once the coral are healthy and stable they will be transplanted in local damaged reefs.

Foxtrot 2 Day 4 026_med

The Ridge to Reef project seeks to develop a holistic approach to watershed management in the Cane Garden Bay community.  Coral and marine health is directly affected by the surrounding land use.  Community education and involvement is important to make lasting changes that will effectively protect local marine ecosystems, which directly influences the local economy.

All of our Sail Caribbean programs have marine science lessons and activities related to the environmental issues targeted by ARK.  Coral health is a main focus in all of our programs, but some programs will take a deeper look at watershed management, sea turtle conservation, and community outreach.  In addition to our own curriculum that covers these topics, we will also partner with ARK for certain projects.  Our Foxtrot and Sierra adventures will submit their turtle tagging data to ARK to assist with their Virgin Island Sea Turtle Programme.  Ocean program participants will work directly with ARK as well, by participating in a Turtle Encounter programme.  Future partnership possibilities are endless!

Like ARK on Facebook for interesting facts, articles, and updates on their projects.  Contined support will be the driving force that enables ARK to make the positive changes to protect the beautiful places that we all love.

Top Youth Circumnavigators

At some point in a sailor’s life, the romantic idea of sailing around the world consumes every thought and dream.  Ever since the first explorers sailed around the world in the 1520s, mariners have set sail with high hopes and big dreams.  The notion of such a daring adventure is nothing short of exciting.  For many, they have years, even decades of sea time under their belt before they set out.  But for some, they are just teenagers more enthralled with the idea of life at sea than on land.  The Everest of sailing!

Fast forwarMariaBlog1d to 1965 when Robin Lee Graham set off in “Dove” to sail around the world.  With just $75, 500 pieces of second hand clothes for trade, and a kitten to keep him company, Robin set sail from Hawaii.  His adventures included near misses, hurricanes, two dismastings, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and anchors dragging.  Graham even met his wife on the adventure!  At just 16 years old, Robin became the youngest man to sail around the world.  His best-selling book “Dove” details the five year journey and shows that although grand, this trip is about courage, loneliness, determination, simplicity, and the sheer power of the sea.

It hasn’t just been American teenager with the quest to set off to sea!  Australians, Canadians, and Dutch teenagers have all aspired with the same dream and some have made history.MariaBlog2

Australian teenager Jesse Martin became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo, nonstop, and unassisted in 1999.  His 34 foot boat “Lionheart-Mistral” carried him 27,000 nautical miles in just 11 months.  Jesse was also the driving force behind the World Sailing Speed Record Council discontinuing recognition for the youngest circumnavigator to discourage such dangerous attempts for young men and women.

MariaBlog3Many teenagers saw Martin as an inspiration and strived to do the same.  Australian Jessica Watson completed her trip around the work faster than Martin and went on to skipper the youngest crew in the acclaimed Sydney to Hobart race.  Zac Sutherland, a California native, became the first person under 18 years old to complete the circumnavigation solo.  His younger sister Abby made an attempt one year later but had to be rescued midway through due to a dismasting in the Indian Ocean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd most recently, Laura Dekker sparked a lot of controversy with the Dutch government before setting sail at 14.  The courts objected to her plans saying she was too young to be a captain of a vessel and child services became involved.  Finally the case was dropped and with the support of her father, Laura set sail on her 38 foot ketch “Guppy” from Gibraltar.  123 days later, at the age of 16, Laura and “Guppy” arrived safely in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten.  You can see her adventures first-hand in her documentary “MaidenTrip”, which gives an intimate portrait of the young girl and the ambitious dream that became a reality.

Have you ever dreamed of sailing off into the sunset?  Did Sail Caribbean give you a sweet taste of what living and sailing on boats feels like?  Will you be the next teen to chase their dream of sailing around the world?


mariaAbout the author: Maria P. Coughlin has been a part of Sail Caribbean for over 14 years, both as a student and staff member.  She now lives in Rhode Island with her husband and is the Sailing Director for the Herreshoff Marine Museum.

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