Location: Underway to Cape Town

Today started bright and early.. well it actually started very dark and early. Watch team 1, Smash, Ava, Wes, Ayden, Audrey, Lina, and me, took over watch from 4-8 this morning. At around eight last night during our 6-8 watch, we pulled into the protected inlet that Port Elizabeth creates to hide from a large low pressure system that created winds that we did not want to be out on the water for. We turned the engine off and floated with the current until it was safe to continue. At one point, we were going -4 knots… Watch Team 3 start moving again at 1 am. These past few watches have been the coldest yet, with many people wearing all of their layers. My setup takes about 5 minutes to put on, and it consists of my pajamas, a long sleeve, then sweat pants and sweatshirt #1, then my foulie bib, sweatshirt #2 rain jacket, beanie, occasionally wool socks, and most importantly, a very hot tea with honey. There was a light drizzle almost all day, so we all ate lunch down in the salon, which always feels special and quite cozy, like watching a movie during recess in elementary school. Lunch, by Lucia, was lentil soup and cornbread, which was perfect for a rainy day. I maaaay have spilled my entire bowl in Lucia’s lap on a a particularly large wave (oops). It’s much easier to adjust to our time schedule when we are on shore than it is to get used to waking up at odd hours, and with being only three days in, we are all spending much of our free time catching up on sleep, even if it is quick 30-minute power nap between watch and lunch. We are also finished with classes, so the usually very busy hours of 2-4 are now completely free! Now, instead of lectures, we can watch movies! Which is what a group did today. The very best rom-com (I will take no arguments), 10 Things I Hate About You, was playing in the salon with the lovely background ambiance of, and I quote from Allie, “Lucia Cutler’s hot new album, ‘Screams from the Galley.'” Zoe even teared up at the end. From Cat Stratford’s poem or Lucia’s chaos? We will never know. While this was happening, highlights from watch team 1’s 2-6 watch were the seals that have dubbed our watch “seal watch” because we have seen all of the seals, sunflower seed spillages with Ayden, Ava’s intrusive thoughts winning, and her pressing the button that blows the horn, and a once white, turned grey towel being used to clean up spilled oil in the galley turning out to be Aydens towel right after I said, “If that is someone’s towel and not a deck towel, we are doing them a favor.” Dinner was chicken nuggets and salad, which was so good. To end the night, my squeeze question was to have everyone give a 10-word or less story that could be about anything. To have potential true stories mixed with made up ones was very funny. With the last week of the program eminent, talk of all that we have been through and disbelief that we are coming to an end has been floating around, making its way into the conversation and small comments that are often shut down in denial of leaving so soon. While I do not know how I will be able to return to the land after finding such comfort in the rocking of the boat, in having so many people around me at all times like one big sleepover, and in calling all 112ft of Vela home, this time of reflection has made me take a step back and make sure that I appreciate every single second, from shivering up on deck in the middle of the night, laughing with my watch team and guest stars from other teams to the silent moments on coolant watch with just the sound of the engine and the glow of all of the screens and buttons. I now find myself re-noticing small details that have become habits or everyday occurrences but are actually a sign of this journey. I now know the perfect strategy for opening the water tight doors during rough waves, I see people always sitting in their favorite spot in the salon, I notice the rush of wind that funnels down the companion ways, and I can hear when the engine changes or the generator is turned on. I no longer fear falling from the top bunk or get worried when Tom talks about potential rough weather or struggles we might encounter while sailing. In fact, I can now confidently say those hard moments are what have created the best stories. I notice myself staying up a few extra minutes after watch to make the most of my time with this amazing group of people or looking back on photos from all of the cool places that we have been to. Most importantly, I have been able to realize how much everyone aboard has grown from the beginning almost three months ago until now, whether that be certain people who doubted their capability to take charge of sail handling or others finding their voices and growing more comfortable with everyone. Whatever it may be, I appreciate it all, good, bad, funny, sad, hard moments, and calm moments. I know that I, along with everyone else, have been life-chantingly impacted by each moment in a way that is hard to describe or put into words but is now so fundamental in the way that I live. My perspective, and I am forever grateful. As always,
LOADS of love to my family at home, and very honestly, I miss you all so much, but I also never want to leave!! <3