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Welcome to Vela!

Location: Civitavecchia

Vela has transformed overnight from a vessel seemingly the same as any other in the marina, prepping for passage, scrubbing the deck, and provisioning fresh food - to one incomparable to any other around, brimming with a tangible excitement, laughter, and most importantly the fresh faces of our twenty-six new shipmates. Staff and students alike have been counting down the days until this moment, an anticipated arrival day to kick off our next great adventure.

To properly set the stage for this journey, I want to share the sentiments that past Vela students wrote in the ship's journal at the end of their trips. Many write that Vela is their favorite place they've ever called home - one where they experienced their greatest growth and closest friendships and where they felt most comfortable being themselves. Advice from future students ranges from "Don't get so comfortable that you let the magnificent become mundane. Always grab your PFD and go on deck to see the dolphins, no matter how many you've already seen. Stay up the extra hour at night to have those one-on-one meaning-of-life conversations or group laughs that make your stomach hurt. Really listen when the engine is off, and the wind is the only thing pushing you. There is no equivalent feeling of serenity on land." to "Get stuck into everything. Say yes to every task, even if it doesn't seem like fun - scrubbing the hull ended up being my favorite memory on board. Your time here is so short, so get everything out of it that you can. You will never have this moment back, don't let it slip through your fingers. You are about to begin the greatest adventure of your life, and you may not recognize who you were stepping on this boat when it comes time to step off. This is Vela, and you will carry her with you forever."

When looking around at Vela today, you would probably see sweaty faces who just carried all of their belongings around a strange Italian city, wrestling with the task of unpacking it all into a small bunk while meeting 32 complete strangers for the first time. You might see puzzled faces during the explanation that the toilet hasn't actually been flushed until you've flushed it four times or winces of final Covid tests to get on board. The day was filled with first attempts at jobs (Believe it or not, parents, everyone reported back that they were excited to do dishes! Don't let them forget this when they come home), friendship bracelets on the bow, sharing all the various motivations calling them here during squeeze, discussing what to do if a bear (not native to Europe or The Caribbean) gets loose on board and other understandable worries, and exploring a currently strange new home.

You may wonder how we get from this to the experience waxed poetic about by past students as they depart. The recipe is different on each voyage, but as a past student myself, I know that it is inevitable. This group of strangers will become a family, and passing boats will confuse us for having our engines on when in reality, it is just the rumble of laughter. Your child may return with a smattering of strange inside jokes or an urge to speak in a random accent and a million stories that they can't even begin to fully explain. We will see so many beautiful, wonderful places and go on excursions deserving of a place on anyone's bucket list, but in the end, everyone will agree that those weren't the moments that made the trip. It's the people. It's always the people. And I'd say we have an excellent group.

Meet the Staff!
Calum - Skipper, Medic, Dive Instructor, Can Knit A Full Sweater In 12 Minutes Flat Using His Own Hair
Sam - Program Manager, Oceanography Instructor, Dive Instructor, Moonlights As An Elvis Impersonator (Not A Good One)
Matt - Chief Mate, Seamanship Co-Professor, Medic, Dive Instructor, Close With His Grandmother
Carolyn - Mate, Marine Biology Instructor, Dive Instructor, Slack Jaw Dance Off Mercenary
Ash - Head Medic, Leadership Instructor, Dive Instructor, Child Prodigy Taxidermist (Could've Gone Pro If It Weren't For His Bum Knee)
Allie - Mate, Seamanship Co-Professor, Medic, Funniest and Coolest (Objectively), Has The Same Toothbrush As Matt
Riley - Mate, Office Double Agent, "The Farthest From A Florida Man You Can Get" (Liar)