Location: Cape Town

I can’t believe it’s already been a week with these lunatics. After an incredibly fun sign-out night with the crew, Vela is ramping up to depart Cape Town. Today, we started off with Shakshuka and some fresh fruit. This was then followed by an introduction to our Seamanship class. Our teacher, Jake, did a great job preparing and presenting slides that helped us better understand the many different parts of a staysail schooner, including basic terminology that applies to all sailing boats, as well as Vela specific parts that we must understand in order to make it across the Atlantic Ocean. Even though I have sailed many small boats before, this was super interesting because many of the parts I had never heard of before. Jake also made sure to do a thorough job ensuring that everyone in the class understood the material. This lesson was followed by a trip to the top deck, where we did a “Deck Rodeo.” This entailed splitting into groups and getting some hands-on practice with the concepts and parts addressed in our earlier lecture. Jake, Allie, Nick, and our Captain Freddie taught us all the knots we needed to know, like bowlines, cleat hitches, and coils. They also reviewed procedures for raising and lowering the sails on pin rails- something I had never used before and always wondered about when I saw older boats.

With some free time before lunch, many of us started to work on our ID logbooks for Marine Biology using the fish, reptiles, and penguins we saw at the aquarium yesterday. For lunch, we had Chicken wraps with veggies, which were delicious; eating using wraps made doing dishes super streamlined. After lunch, we returned to the saloon to listen to Stef, Meg and Will review how to read and write scientific reports, a skill we will frequently use for the many papers and projects we have coming up already. By the time this was over, we were all itching to get out and provision ourselves with snacks and energy supplements that would definitely be essential for the 12-day passage ahead of us. After stopping at the pick-and-pay candy shop, as well as the Biltong (South African Jerky) store, a bunch of us met up for some ice cream before returning to Vela, and even though I’m lactose intolerant, I must say I love the ice cream here. When we got back, we all were chilling on the boat, all doing different things but laughing and talking together all the same. Freetime like this is so much fun, and it reminds me why I wanted to do a program like this. Dinner was vegetarian, curry with some of the leftovers from yesterday and lunch, and although I am not a vegetarian, we all made sure to tell Wills how “bussin” his meal was. The question that I came up with for the group at the end of Dinner was, “What is your spirit animal, and why?” This was a great question, as we had a bunch of funny answers. During cleanup, there was a whole sing-along of grunge music that was very wholesome to listen to.