Location: Gustavia, St Barthelemy

Hello! Skipper Anna here,
Today was our first full day anchored at St. Barts, and although we werent cleared to go
on shore quite yet, we had a busy day here on Vela. First on the agenda was BA (boat
appreciation), where the entire crew pitched in to clean up/tidy up/tighten up everything in and on
the boat. You would not believe the amount of salt that accumulates on every surface on deck
after a multi-day sail: we joke that you can just swipe your hand anywhere on deck and collect
enough salt to season all three meals for the day. Theres a special sort of satisfaction that comes
from brushing up against the dinghy or the chart house after passage and noticing a fine coat of
salt crystals all. Over. You. BA is our way of helping Vela de-salt with intense scrubbing and
swabbing, and it also includes cleaning and sorting out the galley and salon area. Annika and I
were on rust removal duty when we started noticing giant barracudas slowly circling Vela and
got the grand idea to try to find a time to swim with them. More on that later
After BA, our head chef Lizzy went above and beyond and served us a delicious and
nutritious lunch. Let it be known that Lizzy is by far our favorite head chef and never fails to
disappoint with her culinary creations. We squeezed in two classes after lunch. Nav Master was
our first class which was our introduction to being able to read charts and use them later when
we decide on our own course for a student-led passage. It feels pretty good to start understanding
navigational concepts that are mentioned in maritime books and movies, and were all pumped to
add to our sailing knowledge. Next up was marine bio with Dylan and the subject of the day was
marine mammals and sea birds which got us ALL fired up. To summarize from the lecture today:
never underestimate the arctic tern, and tubenoses are the most romantic birds you will ever
***********Note to Dr. K: if youre reading this (and I really hope you are), I have SO MUCH
to tell you about how physics is used every day here and how much Ive enjoyed seeing what
Ive learned in class and apply it to the ropes and pulleys we have on board, our SCUBA diving
equipment and principles, the physiology of fish, wave energy, etc. Would much enjoy having a
physics chat about EVERYTHING related to the ocean.
But the real fun came after BA and classes when we were able to have free time. Emma
and I immediately changed into our bathing suits, grabbed our masks and snorkels, and dove off
the side of Vela to track down the barracudas we had been seeing, and we were not disappointed.
One, two, three barracudas were slowly paroling the waters beside Vela and were completely
disinterested in us (which I cannot say was the same for us in regard to seeing them). Annika did
almost jump into the water fully clothed to see them, decided against it, changed into a bathing
suit, and by the time she came back, all the barracudas had left. Calum eventually joined us in
order to free dive 16 meters (52.8 ft) to retrieve some rogue spoons that had been accidentally
dumped into the ocean during a dinner clean-up last night. Cora and I got to practice some free
diving as well, which I immediately fell in love with: as much as I have loved SCUBA diving,
there is nothing I find so pure and beautiful as being completely unencumbered in the water and
diving deep, deep down into the richest blue and feeling like a bird soaring over the ocean floor.
Annika did get to see her barracudas and surfaced each time, completely exuberant and laughing
like a maniac.
We concluded our day with an incredible dinner of chicken tenders (courtesy of Lizzy)
with a prelude of a spontaneous YMCA dance party on top of the chart house directed at a
a fabulously extravagant yacht that did not reciprocate. Currently, weve got a dance party
happening to celebrate day 45, aka THE OFFICIAL HALFWAY POINT THROUGH THE
Ill take this opportunity to also give you all the inside scoop of some of the challenges
weve had here on board and to assure you all that this is not, in fact, an extended vacation in the
Caribbean (like you all thought). None of us were completely prepared to live and work together
as a crew. Imagine not having alone time for three. Months. You are just never alone and having
personal space is something you can only look forward to after leaving Vela. Weve all had to
learn how to do conflict resolution and to do it fast because there is no issue, no problem that
escapes the attention of everyone aboard this 112 ft. schooner. Personalities sometimes grate
against each other, small slights can become big issues, and the daily tasks never end. Ive never
had to be so aware of how my actions, either big or small, can affect my crewmates because
everything here is connected. Were living the dream, but sometimes all you want is to curl up in
a bed that you can roll over in (also a bed that you dont live in fear of being thrown out of
because of large swells, rip Allissa both times), eat anything you want, be able to flush a toilet
once and not pump water into the bowl four times every ten seconds or sleep through a night
without either a 1.5 or 4-hour watch. We wouldnt trade any of it, though: time is flying, and we
are soaking in every moment as much as we possibly can because were living our dream. We
just may come back a bit different than what you remembered.
Until next time,
Skipper Anna