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Having gotten our COI, life has gone from busy to crazy and hectic. Last Monday through Thursday we completed our first four of eighteen Educator Sails. The teachers and other educators getting to participate in these free continuing educational programs seem to be fairly impressed with the program. Our success will be easier to gauge by how full our Fall and Spring daysail dates fill up as a result of these sails. We need fewer than ten percent of our 500 educators sailing this summer to bring their classes to completely fill our calendar for the fall!
Wednesday night, we followed our Educator Sail with a sail for one of our major donors. This man funded an entire multi-faceted educational program for one of the area private schools, topped off with some other donations as well. Captain Arrow took advantage of the wind and lack of additional programming going on to work the crew and the ship. We raised the jib, struck the jib, raising the main, raised the jib, raised the main, tacked, and then, finally, had a chance to clean up the deck. Cleaning up the deck consists of coiling all the lines used so that they are ready to be used again. We tacked a few more times, flying through the harbor and heeled over an impressive amount.
About an hour into the sail, we were told to douse sail...as quickly as possible. That same wind that was helping us have a fabulous sail happened to be bringing us one doozy of a squall. We sent the donor and his guests below to the main salon (also known as the sauna during rain as all the hatches must be closed and the South Carolina heat bakes the entirety of below decks) while hurredly dousing and securing the sails the best we could. The squall didn't last too long, however, it was the first time we'd been off the dock for any rough weather, so it was a good learning experience for the ship and her crew. Luckily enough, the weather cleared before we got back to the dock, making docking a breeze.
Thursday night, there was an event on board after our Educator Sail, so Sam and I (the two constant live-aboards) went out for some delicious sushi. After that it was time to prepare the Spirit of South Carolina for her first offshore adventure. Liz, one of our volunteers, made the voyage by taking on the role of cook and provisioner for the four day trip. We assisted her with unloading the impressive stock of food she'd bought for us.
We arose before most college students go to sleep on Friday morning, at an un-Godly 1:15am, to finish preparations and ultimately got off the dock at 0300 hours. Unfortunately, the wind was not in our favor and we had a pretty important tidal constraint to get into Beaufort, so we motored into the wind for 10 hours before reaching Saint Helena's Sound. We anchored and played for a while before heading the rest of the way to the Beaufort Water Festival for the weekend.
Saturday and Sunday the ship was open for tours. Saturday also happened to be a crewmember's birthday, so it ended up being a late night of good fun. As crew, we got free passes to the festival concert, The Wreckers, although most of us chose to stay at the outdoor bar just to the side of the stage area. In honor of the birthday celebration, we actually got ourselves dressed up (by sailor standards anyway).
Sunday was children's day at the festival, so I was tattooing people with Spirit of South Carolina tattoos and talking about our educational programs. As a whole, the festival workers and marina did a great job taking care of us. They provided us a hotel room for respite, unlimited water, poweraid, and ice, three meals, and lots of useful information.
Beaufort itself was a fairly cute, albeit obviously intentional town. In the downtown area, there were no chains. Most businesses and restaurants were in building with at least the appearance of historical value. There were multiple coffee shops and a decent ice cream place for time off entertainment as well.
On the trip back, we motored the first portion in hopes of hitting Charleston before dark. We made enough time motoring to sail for the last four hours of the trip, which happened to coincide with my watch (lucky me!). A little surprise awaited us when we returned to the city, however, as the Malasian Barquentine Dewaruci happened to be at our dock. Perhaps Captain Arrow knew this in advance, but it was news to the rest of the crew. We docked at the fuel dock and were finally stood down from a busy eight days at about 2130.