Location: Underway to Christmas Island
It’s really blue. Everywhere you look, it’s just blue. All the way to the horizon. That really gets me. I’ve studied the ocean for years, preparing for the chance to teach this Oceanography class, and I’ve never been able to experience the complete immersion of being out at sea myself.
The crew is adjusting well to the swaying cadence of an offshore lifestyle. Wes, Ruby, and Nico were able to cook two delicious meals for us as we kept our course, barreling towards Christmas Island and the deadline for the student’s first Marine Biology paper. Overall, life feels good for Vela. It’s surely more exciting by the day than my life as a laboratory-based researcher.
And by the looks of it, it’s looking to get even more exciting! We make our way to Christmas Island, a volcanic island that, over years of eruption and growth, came to break from the waves and form a magnificent tropical environment. From there, we stage the rest of our voyage across the Indian to arrive in Africa, stepping foot on two continents across three months. It really is an incredible program for students and staff alike! As Steph has mentioned, this program takes us to such remote, fantastic vistas of the marine environment that it not only draws in students but also a number of staff members who dream of making this voyage. I, for one, don’t know that I ever would have made it to places like Christmas Island, Cocos Keeling, or Mauritius were I not on this vessel cruising along at 9 knots through the Indian Ocean. It definitely wasn’t in the wheelhouse for every 6th-generation Jacksonville, Florida native kid who said he wanted to be a scientist, that’s for sure. I’m really glad I’m here, that I get to teach these incredible students about their planet in such a unique way, and that, someday, I’ll get to bring these stories back to my family in Jacksonville and “see it with new eyes” as J.R. Tolkien said. That’ll be a really great day.