Location: Lawa Darat, Indonesia

Although we have had a good bit of early mornings as we’ve frolicked around Indonesia, none were as early (or maybe as worth it) as the 4:50 am wake-up for the sunrise hike up Lawa Darat island. Allie, whom I share a cabin with, thought she was awoken by Tom and Smash sticking their fingers in her ears, but alas, they only gave her their classic head rubs. Everyone was shuttled onto the beach, and off they went with the guides for protection from possible Komodo Dragons, up and over the island for sunrise at 5:49. While hiking, they saw heaps of deer, which apparently scared the crap out of Kasey, who we learned today is afraid of deer. Kasey also told the guides that she was from Singapore, which he responded to by saying that the last (and only other) person he knew from Singapore who did this hike had gotten eaten by a Komodo Dragon, and all they found that was left of him was his shirt. Ben’s response to that was, “Two for two?”. But luckily, we have Kasey safe and sound on board, not consumed by a dragon. All the while, a few of us were back on board, getting breakfast ready and awaiting the group’s arrival at the beach to bring them back to Vela.
Once back on board, we had a delicious breakfast of berry breakfast bread made by Ava, accompanied by Indonesian gogurts. Yes, you read that right, we had gogurts. Following breakfast cleanup was marine biology class, taught by me, which actually consisted of a species scavenger hunt lab where we all snorkeled in the shallow coral reef just next to the boat. We found some super cool fish and invertebrates, including Clown and Titan Triggerfishes, Striped Surgeonfish, and my personal favorite, a nudibranch that looked like a black and white cow! Following our in-water class, we headed back to Vela to start passage prep and turn Vela from dive mode into sail mode for our mini passage back to Bali. The students took off the sail covers, laz trolled all the dive gear back into the laz, and attached the halyards mostly on their own, which is pretty impressive for day 14 of the program. Thankfully, lunch came quickly because today was truly a scorcher, and we all needed some grub and some respite in the shade of our trusty and steadfast mini tarp.
After we were full of pesto pasta, they headed into Oceanography class, where they learned all about the layers of the Earth and how scientists figured out how Earth’s crust has moved and changed over millions of years. Then, everyone headed back up on deck for a quick Seamanship lesson on pin rails and cleats before we departed for Bali. We also did a MOB (man overboard) drill today, with Allie as our fake MOB. This time, we practiced having Jake, our rescue swimmer, in the water who swims out to the MOB and brings them back to the boat, where we all worked together to hoist them up back onto the deck of Vela. Then it was time to watch our last sunset in Komodo, where we were surprised by a big pod of dolphins that came super close to the boat and kept surfacing for the whole hour before dinner as the sun went down. Dinner was served, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their tacos and got excited for a squeeze. I warned everyone at breakfast that the squeeze was going to be show and tell tonight, so they had all day to prepare. To be honest, I think it was one of my favorite squeezes that we’ve done. Things ranged from my cow Squishmallow named Marvin and Ben’s engraved Swiss army knife from his dad to Allie’s dula mimi (photo included) and Kasey’s mini telescope. Now, everyone is bustling around me to get the cleanup finished so we can hop off this mooring and start our journey back over to Bali.

P.S. Hi, mom and dad. Hi Shaun. You can thank Smash for making me skipper so early. Love you guys!