Location: Jack Sparrow's Island
Another day filled with laughter, love, and adventure is coming to a close aboard Vela. So difficult to believe it’s only day 5. 5 days packed full of learning the ways of our new adventurous lifestyle permeated by moments of sheer awe towards the dream-like paradise we find ourselves in. Today was one of our most action-packed days yet accompanied by our hottest and brightest weather (don’t worry, moms, we’re getting really good at using sunscreen). First thing after breakfast this morning, our super-staff scouted some seriously spectacular SCUBA and snorkel spots. We split into two groups, so the dive groups were small enough to work on their beginner Openwater Dive certification skills. While one group dove, the other learned some basic sailing knots from our Nautical Science instructor, Tom. There is a good mix of sailing experience and inexperience aboard, so collaboration among students is constant, and the inexperienced are quickly becoming less-so. Our responsibilities on board are also becoming second nature. The routine of post-meal chores, moving gear, and keeping our bunks organized are becoming more and more regular as this new lifestyle settles in. Mealtimes are extremely cherished aboard Vela, as you may have gathered from previous blog posts. Between sailing, diving, snorkeling, swimming, and learning, our lives are suddenly extremely active. And we’re all growing young adults. Our metabolisms are skyrocketing. While consuming mass amounts of food may be a priority during mealtime, one might sit back and observe the laughter, the smiles, and the comfort within our new family. We feel not like we’ve only known each other for 5 days, but more like 5 years. Or more. Someone did some math recently…by the end of the voyage. We will have spent the same amount of time together as if we attended 1st through 12th grade in school together. So many hours…
After lunchtime, the certified divers went for a drift snorkel along the reef near Jack Sparrow’s Island. Getting reacquainted with the ocean and our dive gear has been loads of fun. The feeling of free-diving, swimming with the fishies pretending to be one of them, is like no other. We toured the whole reef, being carried along by the current. Upon returning, the other group of Openwater Divers departed for their first skills dive. I’m told an eagle ray was spotted (and a sea turtle this morning I forgot about)! Though the corral life here is struggling due to the ocean conditions, the other wildlife is vibrant as ever. It definitely brings a new level of appreciation into our experience. The rest of the early evening was spent relaxing with books, tunes, and games of chess, a few favorite ways to relax after diving. As the sun sank behind some massive cotton candy clouds, we jumped (or popped some cheeky backies in some cases) into the Indian Ocean once more for the day to shower off the sweat and sunscreen. Though we couldn’t see the sun, it cast its colors high across the cloud-filled sky and down onto the waves. Nature’s own watercolor painting is unfolding before us. It’s not every day you have a shower, and the soap dries to your skin because you forgot what you’re doing.
As the night draws to a close, laying in our bunks feels surreal. Reflecting on the day…remembering first breaths underwater…laughing so hard it hurts, and you cry…swimming with fish 30 feet below the surface… It might seem difficult to sleep, but before you know it, the sun wakes you up the next day.
Every day we marvel at the sense of belonging we feel. How, in such a short amount of time, can a group of strangers become so deeply, fantastically connected…to our surroundings, to each other, to our Vela, and to ourselves.