10-DAY CITIZEN SCIENCE SAILING ADVENTURES TO EXPLORE AND RESEARCH CORAL REEFS OF THE EXUMA ARCHIPELAGO
YOUR DONATION-BASED ADVENTURE SUPPORTS SUSiE’S STUDENT SCIENCE EXPEDITIONS AND RESEARCH ON CORAL REEFS WORLDWIDE
OPx Letter from Founders
Last year, we buried treasure. We buried treasure so valuable, and so beautiful, its appraisal is beyond estimation. This treasure was yours, and ours. It belonged more to your children. And ours. And even more to their children’s children, for generations to come. But it cannot be recovered. Ever.
In 2016, we lost an estimated one-third of the largest, most valuable living system on the planet – the Great Barrier Reef. And as the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth disappear, so do new cures for disease, food for the world’s growing population, protection of our coastlines, and countless other resources invaluable to humanity, not to mention their unparalleled natural beauty. Coral reefs represent the planet’s most significant storehouse of potential future products, but they are declining at an alarming rate, with many scientists predicting their global extinction by the end of this century. This is unacceptable.
The Science Under Sail Institute for Exploration (SUSIE) is dedicated to advancing coral reef research and awareness aboard innovative training expeditions for early career scientists. SUSiE has been leading college expeditions off-grid, at sea, and under sail since 2006. This year it’s your turn! Embark on a vacation with purpose. We’ve created ON PURPOSE EXPEDITIONS (OPx) in response to the single most common question we get from family, friends and supporters asking, “what can I do?”. With this year’s launch of OPx, we aim to inspire people to care about the future of coral reefs by providing a unique opportunity to explore and study them.
We invite you to join us aboard a 10-day, expert-led sailing expedition to explore, dive and conduct citizen science amongst the 370 idyllic islands of the Exuma archipelago. Designed for the purpose driven traveler, the family that wants more out of vacation, and their ocean-minded friends, OPx will fully immerse you into the underwater realm of the most magnificent ecosystems on earth, coral reefs.
Your children. Our children. Their children’s children. For generations to come. That’s our purpose. That’s ON PURPOSE!
& – SUSiE CoFOUNDERS
10 DAYS | 160 NAUTICAL MILES | 370 ISLANDS
• Support SUSiE’s mission aboard the vacation of a lifetime. Take 1/2 the cost as a tax-deductible donation.
• Enjoy an intimate (6 persons max), expert-led sailing expedition across 160 nautical miles of clear turquoise ocean.
• Explore and study the spectacular coral reefs amongst the 370 remote islands of the Exuma archipelago.
• Swim, dive and relax in some of the clearest waters in the world. And learn why it’s that way.
• Immerse yourself in daily interaction, informal discussion & evening presentations, with SUSiE’s Co-Founders.
• Collect important data with hands-on participation in SUSiE’s on-going research and monitoring projects.
• Take the helm! Learn to sail and navigate the catamaran down the island chain.
Travel in the comfort and luxury of a spacious, modern, world-class Lagoon sailing catamaran.
OPx Itinerary Header
As with all exploration, the itinerary is weather & tide dependent
At sea, of course, everything is weather and tide dependent!
DAY 1: Arrive into Nassau airport and transfer 35 minutes to the vessel harbored at the luxurious Palm Cay marina, located on the southeast side of the island. Enjoy the rest of the day relaxing in the luxurious serenity of blue waters & beaches at the marina. Full amenities: grocery store, Starbucks, kayaks, bicycles, ocean front pool, children’s playground. Team meet & great, orientation and expedition overview before dinner out at the marina Restaurant. – (Dinner Out)
DAY 2: Depart Nassau at sunrise to begin your expedition down the Exuma island chain. Jump into some citizen science as we sample trawl for microplastics en route to the Middle Grounds; one of the most remote and pristine reef systems in the archipelago. Drop anchor with no land in sight and locate SUSiE’s newest underwater research stations, installed by our alumni last year. Conduct more citizen science collecting underwater survey data for the Coral Reef Photomosaic Monitoring Project (CRPMP-details below). Sail into the anchorage at sunset, located in the oldest marine park in the world: Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park at Warderick Wells. – (B,S,L,D aboard)
Day 3: Awaken in the cozy, azure blue anchorage of the ECLSP headquarters. See for yourself why this “only accessible by water” 22-mile stretch of sea and cays is visited by sailors and yachtsmen from around the world. Enjoy a half-day hiking and exploring the pristine island and countless beaches. Visit the park headquarters to grab some souvenirs to take home and meet the park staff who’ve been avid supporters of SUSiE for years. Dive our next underwater research sites at Judi’s Reef, where you’ll continue collecting CRPMP data. After dinner, hike up and capture sunset atop the infamous (and haunted?) Boo Boo Hill. – (B,S,L,D aboard)
Day 4: Depart the park headquarters for a short sail to Danger Reef, SUSiE’s secret shark dive. Take the plunge, if you dare, to swim with these amazing animals. Sail SE to O’Brians Cay where our next underwater research stations are located. Once you’ve finished surveying these sites, climb back aboard and head down the island chain to the Rocky Dundas, where we’ll explore 2 partially submerged caves. A favorite stop of our alumni, inside the Dundas you’ll find gnarly stalactite and stalagmite formations. If you’re a rugged nature lover, grab a scoop of the cave mud and give yourself a full body mud-mask to exfoliate the skin. Drop anchor in the remote and peaceful little alcove of Cambridge Cay. Choose to unwind and fall asleep in a topside hammock under countless stars and the Milky Way clearly overhead. (B,S,L,D aboard)
Day 5: Awaken from a starry slumber, haul anchor and head through the narrow winding watery passage of Pipe Creek, ranked the most beautiful passage in the entire Bahamas. Pipe is a magnificent spot for shelling, snorkeling, spotting eagle rays, and bonefishing (if you’re a bonefisher, bring your gear)! This route brings us out at the popular settlement of Staniel Cay. We’ll anchor off the notorious Big Majors Cay where you will swim with the pigs. Yes! swimming pigs! After you’re all oinked out, we head over and explore the caves of the infamous Thunderball Grotto, where parts of the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball took place. Wrap up the day with a group dinner at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. – (B,S,L,D-O)
Day 6: It’s your turn to take the helm! Today is a long, but relaxing day of sailing. Try your hand at the helm and nautical charts as you navigate us down island to our next destination, Lee Stocking Island. We will stop and grab lunch at Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grill on Little Farmer’s Cay. We’ll arrive and anchor in the harbour of Lee Stocking Island, former home to the Perry Institute of Marine Science, where SUSiE Founder Dr. Smith conducted much of his graduate research. THe evening ends with another beautiful Bahamas sunset and one of many evening lectures at sea. (B,S,L-O,D aboard)
Day 7: A day to explore around Lee Stocking Island and several of the unique attractions nearby. Start the day off with a sunrise snorkel at Palmata Reef, one of the most pristine endangered Elkhorn coral reefs in the Bahamas. Next stop, living Stromatolites! We’ll live-boat (ripping current) snorkel over these majestic living formations, found only in one other place in the world. We’ll break for lunch at the infamous Leaf Cay, where you’ll be joined on the beach by dozens of the endangered, but extremely friendly, Exuma Island iguanas. Head out to Norman’s Reef to find and survey more underwater research stations. End the day with a relaxing swim up a shallow salt water river to explore the historic salt ponds of Norman’s Cay. – (B,S,L,D aboard)
Day 8: Weigh anchor early and set sail to our final destination: Elizabeth Harbour. Spend half the day sailing offshore, honing your skills at the helm or the lines we’ll put in the water to try and catch dinner. Drop anchor in the tranquil harbour and spend the rest of the day exploring the islands, blue holes and endless white sand beaches. Grab a cold beverage at Chat-n-Chill on Stocking Island and relax in the water with the friendly southern stingrays that swim over your feet to say hello. – (B,S,L,D aboard)
Day 9: Today is about community, and getting your land legs back. We’ll gather in the morning for a guided tour of our local NGO partner, the Elizabeth Harbour Conservation Partnership (EHCP). Their students will share with you some of their new and innovative projects, such as beekeeping and permaculture gardens. Afterwards, you’re free to explore the small, but bustling community of Georgetown. Grab lunch somewhere local, enjoy the shops, treat yourself to ice cream! The evening will be a restful dinner at sea, and a roundtable discussion of SUSiE’s mission, vision and future. – (B,S,L-O,D aboard)
Day 10: Spend the day conducting citizen science for our latest research project involving coral forensics. The data you collect will be critical to helping SUSiE and the EHCP determine the source(s) of elevated nutrients within the harbour (see below for a detailed project synopsis). We’ll check-in on our coral nursery behind the pristine little reef at Fowl Cay, and you can help us perform underwater maintenance on nursery arrays if necessary. We’ll keep an eye out for Nikki, the resident dolphin who often comes up to swim and play. Wrap up the expedition and evening with dinner out in Georgetown, enjoying true Bahamian cuisine and local culture. – (B,S,L,D-O)
OPx Research Partners
OPx Trip Details
HOW IT WORKS
1. Designate your Trip Leader. Due to the complexity of planning and logistics, we ask that you appoint one person to facilitate and handle all correspondence between your group and SUSiE Expeditions.
2. Select the Expedition month of interest below and sign-up. One of SUSiE’s Co-Founders will be in touch within 48 hours to address any questions you have & confirm availability.
REQUEST A 2017 RESERVATION
Mar – Reserved – SUSiE on Expedition in Palau
Apr – Reserved – SUSiE on Expedition in Palau
May – Open *Point of interest – Barraterre Festival and Regatta (Class ‘C’ sloops) 5/19-5/21
Jun – Reserved by the Pandey-Dorell Family *Point of interest: June 8th is World Oceans Day!
Jul – Open
Aug – Open
Sep – Open *Point of interest – Mass Coral spawning in the Caribbean. This magnificent event occurs only once per year, typically 3-5 days after the full moon in August and/or September. A few hours after sunset, many corals on the reef will release eggs and sperm in a synchronized spawning event. We head out at night with underwater lights and cameras to catch this spectacular display of nature.
Oct – Reserved – SUSiE on Expedition in Palau
Nov – Open
Dec – Open
COST: The cost of joining an OPx Expedition is $28,980 USD for the entire vessel ($4830 per person, double occupancy) for a 10-Day Expedition. The cost of participating in a SUSiE Expedition is considered a contribution. Half the contribution is considered a ‘gift’ and may be used as a charitable deduction for federal income tax purposes.
To understand what your contribution covers, please head over to the next Tab “Inclusions & Exclusions”
Your “contribution” covers & excludes the following:
INCLUSIONS: Berthing and food aboard the research vessel for the duration of the mission, shuttle to and from the vessel upon arrival & departure, all curriculum & research materials, research consumables, field sampling & survey gear, dive equipment, services of SUSiE experts and/or local guides, lecturers, Expedition leaders, and any other staff, pre-departure information; entrance fees, excursions, and sightseeing.
EXCLUSIONS: Airfare and related flight costs, costs of obtaining passports or visas, mandatory dive accident insurance through Dive Assure (under $100), optional trip cancellation insurance, medical expenses and immunizations; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; personal expenses, such as laundry, telephone calls; and any other items not specifically noted as included. Also excludes 3 dinners / 2 lunches and beverages while ashore.
ACCOMMODATIONS: 3 spacious queen guest cabins (double occupancy) fore and aft with personal heads (bathrooms) and showers per cabin.
GROUP SIZE: 6 persons max. A group constitutes a party of 1-6 people made up of your family and/or friends. OPx Expeditions are child & family friendly. We gladly accommodate children of all ages and will do our best to customize (insomuch as possible) your expedition and itinerary to the ages, interests and comfort level of your specific group. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Although no single berths or cabins are being offered at this time, please email us if this interests you.
Interested in more time at sea and/or more people aboard? Please email us and let’s chat.
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate. 3-6 hours of activity per day. OPx Expeditions are approximately 70% water / 30% land based. Overall, you must be physically fit or comfortable with your ability to be in, above, and on the water. The 70% water-based activities include sailing, snorkeling, diving (if comfortable) and transit to research stations and shore aboard the vessel’s tender (a 12′ inflatable vessel). You should be comfortable and able to board the catamaran and tender from the water following a dive or snorkel. Because of the remoteness of our research stations, we dive using Surface Supplied Air (SSA) systems, commonly known as ‘hookah rigs’. SCUBA certification is NOT required (none exists for SSA diving). Instruction and supervision will be given, but participation in diving activities is optional, based on your preference, comfort and ability. SUSiE reserves the right to permit or deny participation in diving based on in-water evaluation of a participant’s comfort and ability. Hookah diving is restricted to guests 14 and older. The 30% land-based activities include: visits to explore uninhabited islands and beaches; short day hikes, often over rough terrain; and scheduled stops at small Bahamian towns and settlements with free time to explore the local culture. All activities aboard an OPx Expedition are considered ‘optional’, with your participation level being governed solely by your choosing.
TRIP DETAILS: Welcome to OPx Expeditions! Here are just a few more details you might find important. Once we depart Nassau, you will spend the remainder of the expedition aboard the vessel, overnighting under countless stars in some of the most beautiful anchorages in the Exumas. In other words, we’ll not be staying in marinas aside from the first and last day. Although we’ll be taking you way off-grid, there will be AC, fresh water, and plenty of fresh food and snacks aboard. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks & Drinks (including beer & wine – no hard alcohol) will be served daily. The itinerary also includes 3 dinners and 2 lunches ashore (not included in trip cost). We can accommodate dietary restrictions to an extent – vegetarians & gluten free welcome! The vessel is completely drug and smoke free. An extensive Expedition Brief (your guide to come aboard) will be provided upon deposit.
We look forward to sailing with you!