Location: Portsmouth, Dominica
My day started off with having anchor watch from 1:30-3 am. What a time. Thankfully, after I fetched Sammy and Ben for their shift, I was able to go right back to bed, which I promptly did. I woke up 15 minutes or so before 7, anxious that I’d somehow not hear the alarm I’d set, so I was wide awake by the time I had to wake everyone up. I said a gentle good morning; it’s time to wake up! To everyone as I went from cabin to cabin. Got myself ready for breakfast, which was prepared by our lovely chef of the day, Toria, and her sous-chefs, Daphne and Cosmo. We had a delicious breakfast of granola with assorted dried fruits, yogurt, jam, and assorted toppings. It was probably my favorite breakfast so far. After breakfast, I made some announcements about the day to come, and everything fell into action.
We had a group of divers go out, Cosmo, Skyler, Sammy, Owen, and Kirby, to be exact. They all became certified (except Kirby, just because he was in another group, to begin with), and now our number of open-water certified divers is growing, which is always good. During their dive, I was tasked with making sure that all the passage prep was done and done well. I was given a sheet with a lot of tasks that had to be accomplished, and I got to work assigning jobs for people. The sail covers were taken off, the engine room checked, our bunks stored securely, and so much more.
We were initially planning on sailing away from Les Saintes around noon today, but the customs in Les Saints didn’t open until 2 pm for some reason. Tom joked that the French must be quite lazy to do that, and I agreed since why would you just not allow ships to leave until the afternoon? Very strange. During that extended time waiting to leave for passage, I, along with lots of other people, worked on the logbook assignment for Marine Biology. I was able to finish all the information I had to write down, so I started up on my drawings which I enjoyed a lot. Eventually, lunch rolled around, which was a very well-prepared salad. To be fair, it was a make-your-own specific salad, but amazing anyways. There was the base of spinach and lettuce, with some amazingly made chickpeas, which actually ended up having quite a kick to them. We also had the option of adding goat cheese, glazed or non-glazed walnuts (created perfectly by Toria), and a small amount of strawberries, just because it wasn’t possible to get more than one box for some reason.
After having a very delicious and healthy salad for lunch, we had our second official Marine Biology class taught by Dylan. In all honesty, a lot of us were a bit tired, but it was a good intro to what we’re going to be learning more about in the class. Once that finished, I thought I’d have some time to work more on my logbook, but Smash came down to tell us to put on our PFDs and meet up in the cockpit. Everything was checked off of my passage prep checklist, so we used the engine to head out a bit further from where we were anchored, and then the whole crew worked together to get the sails up. We had 5/6 sails raised, which was the most we’d put up so far since being on Vela. More work for sure, but I feel even more informed on how the boat works, which I should hope so because I’m going to be on here for the next three months. I ended up being closer to the bow of the boat for the start of our passage, helping with setting up the jib and the flying jib. In turn, I ended up not feeling so well after 30 minutes or so because it was so bumpy and rocky up there.
After all the sails were up and running, everyone met up in the cockpit, where once we were dismissed, only a few of the students stayed. Some, including myself, just because of seasickness. The staff stayed there, though, and made lots of funny jokes and told hilarious stories, which helped with not feeling so well. I ended up trying to eat an orange, which hurt more than helped, so I eventually decided to try and nap to feel better.
I woke up about an hour later with half an orange still left in my lap and, thankfully, feeling a lot better than when I fell asleep. I’d awoken just in time to see us sailing up to Dominica, along with a beautiful sunset behind us, right on the horizon. Very satisfying to watch the sun dip below the sea. It also moves a lot faster than you’d imagine. As we were coming into where we’d be anchoring, I went down to the galley to see how dinner was coming along. The chef and sous-chefs had been working for at least the past couple hours, and because they were cooking so much, the whole galley and salon were like a sauna when I went down the stairs. They were close to finishing, so I said they could send up the food once it was all ready. I went back up on deck to a shock at the actual temperature, which ended up feeling refreshing after a minute or so, and people had already started to take the sails down. I went and assisted where I could. One part I was a part of was flaking the sails, which is folding them back and forth on themselves when they’re being lowered. It was very chaotic, but I laughed so hard because Allie was helping us with it, and she told us to “Make sure to flake the sails before they flake you.” We flaked those sails so well, especially for our first time. Then all the sail covers had to be put back over the sails, where Ben and Charlie seemed like pros standing on the mast steps while securing the sails and lines. Quite impressive.
Once all that got done, and the food gophered (the job for the person is called a gopher, and they just send the food up and down through a window, which in turn is called the gopher hole), we had dinner. Our dinner was some impressively prepared arepas, with sides of chicken, rice, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, guacamole, and the random assortment of dressings that we have. All of it was quite good, but I figured out quite quickly how filling said meal was, and I think that most people would agree with me.
After we’d had our well-earned dinner, we had a round of squeeze. I figured that I’d make the question slightly Valentine’s Day related and asked people what was something that’s usually overlooked or underappreciated, but whenever it’s done to/for you, you really appreciate it. There were a bunch of sweet answers, which I was hoping for. I also chose that question because I felt it would be nice to know something simple and sweet you could do for someone else. I hope it has its intended effect. Once the squeeze was done, we ended up having a very long discussion on a couple of different things. One was our plan for the next morning, and the second was Matt going on a slightly crazed rant about how we shouldn’t use this soap thing called Hibiclens, which is supposed to take all the bacteria off of your body. Apparently, some students on another voyage had been using it constantly, which really wasn’t good, so Matt wanted to make sure that we weren’t destroying our skin. Lots of laughs at the way he delivered said information, but now we all know.
We had normal cleanup, and now I’m writing this all out. Fargo is playing the guitar up on deck, and I can hear him through the window. It’s a very nice vibe we’ve created on this boat after only being on here for ten days.
I’m looking forward to the freshwater shower I was promised since it was dark once we’d anchored and, therefore, couldn’t take an ocean shower. Sending lots of love to those back home on this heart’s day, and excited to see what more the trip brings!