Location: Underway to Richards Bay

Guess who’s back, back again. It’s me, Steph. The only person who’s probably equally as excited to read this as I am about writing this is my mom. Hey mom. Somehow, I always find myself writing these things when watch team 3 starts their day at 12 am on the 12 to 4 watch and ends their day at 12 pm on the 8 to 12 watch. Quite the full day of ridiculousness if you ask me. Our 12 to 4 watch started slow, I’m not going to lie. But I did, for the first time ever, wear sweatpants under my foulie pants on watch last night, which, let me tell you, was a game changer. It is most definitely getting colder and I most definitely do not have enough warm-weather clothes. Not to worry, though, I will be buying out the very first cotton one we see in South Africa of fuzzy socks, thermal leggings, and shirts. Anyway, back to watch. We started slow. It was cold. The stars were epic, though. Within the first 17 minutes, Jake asked, has it been an hour already? Alas, it had not, and he went and got his speaker so that he wouldn’t be alone with his thoughts. Watch went on as normal with DJ Jake for the next two and a half or so hours until Jake started playing some light EDM music. Jackson then began telling Jake his music wasn’t fast or aggressive enough, and then Jackson took over on aux. We then moved into the head-banging rave watch portion of our evening, where we were all up dancing and vibing to the music. It kept us awake and warm and made the last hour of watch fly by. By 4 am, we were all tired and ready to snuggle up into our beds with our fuzzy blankets for the most glorious of big sleeps.

All the while, watch team 3 sleep watch teams 1 and 2 sat vigilantly. Watch team 1 was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise, and watch team 2 had heaps of dolphins jumping at the bow for 10 minutes! Then, at 1130, watch team 3 was awoken for lunchtime watch and was treated to pesto pizza with cream sauce and bacon made by Ava, Ben, and Tom. After lunch, it was time for the students’ last Oceanography lecture, which was on climate change. Pretty crazy how we’re already getting into the last of the program already. Next up for class was the Emergency First Response video to start off that training before the end of the program. While all of this went on, I finished grading all of their plastic essays, started grading their third exams, and then went to take a quick nap before dinner. About 3 minutes into it, I awoke to Smash’s face in my hatching saying WHALES, to which I sprinted up on deck. Tom sounded the horn to let everyone down below know there were whales, and I had never seen these beans move so quickly. Everyone snagged PFDs and headed up towards the bow, where we got a last glimpse of the whale’s dorsal fin before it disappeared into the blue. The students all headed back down to class, and we pulled out the ID book and figured out we were pretty sure we saw a Sei whale! As we’ve gotten closer and closer to land and a lot of big currents that go around Africa, we’ve been getting more “Big and Alive” (TM Emma Lingberg) sightings, which hopefully will only increase. Today, Tom told me he might banish me to the bow when we were close to Cape Town for his own ear health’s sake. I may or may not yell very loud and quite high pitched when we see heaps of marine life off the boat, which rumor has it Cape Town delivers.

Finally, it was time for dinner, which was Gooooooulash, and quite tasty. Our squeeze question tonight was a core memory from the trip, which was an entertaining walk down memory lane of the last 65 days, from swimming off of Lombok to Finn bringing a bag of beans up on deck during a fire drill way back when. Allie’s just informed me we have watch in 37 minutes, which means it’s time to speed shower, boat check, snag a chocolate bar, and head up there for whatever weirdness is to occur in the last four hours of our 12 to 12 days. Catch y’all again on day 89! Woah.