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Location: St. Helena

Hey everyone!
Happy Valentine’s Day eve! We had a pretty eventful day here aboard Vela. We started off with some amazing French toast courtesy of Frida. After breakfast, we split up into two groups for the activity of the day: swimming with whale sharks! Everyone was super jazzed in anticipation of this excursion, so the first group got ready to head out. We dinghied over to Keith, our local friend and tour guide, who took us out on his boat. After a 40-ish minute boat ride, we reached the seamount where the whale sharks like to hang out. If you have no clue what a seamount is, no worries, cause until about ten days ago, I didn’t know either. In our Oceanography class, we learned that a seamount is basically an underwater mountain formed by a hotspot. We looked out from the boat to see if we could spot any marine life, but unfortunately, weren’t see anything. Keith decided to have us all jump in to get a look at the seamount, and while we were in the water, a devil ray came up to hang out with us! It was probably about five feet long, and there were two remoras that were catching a ride on its back. I was already super stoked to get to swim with such an awesome ray because they are some of my favorite animals, but we were still hoping to catch sight of a whale shark.
Keith had us jump back in the boat because we were starting to run low on time, and we headed back towards the boat. We only made it a few minutes, though, before we finally spotted a whale shark off the side of the boat! Keith stopped and had us jump in, and we all got to swim around the shark for a while. It was super chill and just sort of hanging out with us. It almost seemed like it was curious about who we were and liked the company! After about forty minutes in the water with it, we hopped back on the boat to head home for lunch.
When we made it back, the second group got ready to head out while we ate. They left, and then we got to work cleaning the hull of Vela. I was really excited about this particular task as it meant that we got to spend more time in the water. We gently scrubbed the waterline and as far below as we could reach. Once we were pleased with our progress, we hopped out to get going on showers and dinner. Group two made it back and, unfortunately, told us that they didn’t get to see anything 🙁 (EDITORS NOTE: we did see a very large rock) (ADDITIONAL NOTE: group 2 will go back in search of whale sharks in 2 days!) It did seem like they had some very interesting and entertaining other guests on the boat with them who may or may not have stolen Jake’s shirt, so at least they had some fun!
Other interesting happenings onboard Vela today: Several of our crew mates got to make a super fun trip to the local doctor’s office! Luckily, everyone is doing great now. We had some incredible burgers with fries for dinner (shoutout to Frida, Laszlo, and Mads), and this morning, we got to spot a devil ray off the back of the boat during breakfast. I got my laundry done, which is definitely not that interesting to everyone reading this but is actually a bit of an undertaking since we do laundry in a bucket on deck.
Overall, today was another wonderful day on Vela!
Peace out everyone,
Christina

PS. Happy early Valentine’s, Mom, Dad, Alex, Kylie, Lillie, Matt, Nadia, Kara, my fam, and all the rest. I love and miss you all a ton! XOXO

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