Location: Duncan G.
If you’re going to measure a day by how much you can fit in it, then today was probably the best day I’ve experienced so far. My day started this morning promptly at 2:50 am when I was woken up for my anchor watch shift. It was a beautiful, still morning. The moon and stars sprinkled brightly up above, as yet more than I had ever seen in my entire life but fewer than how many I hope to see once we begin to cross the Atlantic, and it was peaceful. Then it began to rain, my pajamas and journals were soaked, and Max, who had been sleeping up on deck in a hammock, glowered at me as he jumped out of the shadows of the salon after mother nature gave him an early wake-up call. I suppose she didn’t get the memo that his watch didn’t start until 4:30.
After a few precious hours of sleep, I hopped up on deck for a quick workout session at 6:45 with Max, Annie, and Abigal. As an apology, mother nature offered Max and me a beautiful morning rainbow that crested just above the starboard quarter. At 7:00, my next task of the day was to cheat death while waking everybody else up. Fortunately, those who wouldn’t appreciate my sense of humor while half asleep were already awake belowdecks, and I was able to wreak havoc without fear of paralysis and death.
Next on the docket was a lovely breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit while Vela moseyed on over to The Baths natural park. There, all of us students were ferried over on dinghies to the outer edge of the protected waters and swam to shore for a few hours of exploration, adventure, and chilling in flooded underwater caves. Kayla, Jack, and I climbed to one of the highest points in search of nature photography opportunities while Tia and Annie snorkeled around the pools and tunnels of the park, and Natalie and Sarah got their adrenaline fixes while jumping from boulders into deep, crystalline pools. Afterward, Zoe, Heather, Dimitri, Haley, Chansky, Mal, and I all ascended too many steps on the scorching ground to grab ice cream and coffee. Gigi, who also came with, went on a mad dash to grab Daniel once she learned that the restaurant sold ice cream since she knew that something he had been craving since coming aboard was a nice cold scoop of ice cream. At 11:30, we all swam back to the dinghy to get picked up to come back to Vela for a lovely lunch of veggie fajitas.
Lunchtime also brought with it another mealtime passage, as we scooted up the coast to the nearby Spanish Town where once again, the students, this time wearing real clothes (this was weird to see since we’ve been diving non-stop the past few days in a uniform of trunks and wetsuits), we’re able to make a long check to a local grocery store to stock up on snacks, drinks, and goods that we forgot to pack. Zoe and I stocked up on tea bags (hopefully, 140 sachets will last us till the Azores), Sage quenched a fresh fruit craving with a fresh mango that “induced a wonderful mango trance on deck,” and Max snagged some lines and hooks to build some trolling lines to fish on the Atlantic. If he gets in a 6-hour flight with a tuna, he does have permission to miss Oceanography classes that are taught by Dylan, but if Carolynn is teaching, well… he’d better fight a little harder. After our field trip to the grocery store, we stopped at a small cafe that offered free wifi, and many of us took advantage of the opportunity to call and text loved ones and update the family on what we’ve been up to and check in with friends. I took the opportunity to give my dad a slightly late fathers day call. Unfortunately, that twenty minutes of ‘internet time’ was cut short by the dinghies arriving again to schlep us back to the Vela for our next adventure.
Once we were underway again, the students gathered in the salon for our first sit-down nautical science class, where Calum shared with us the organization and assignments of the class and taught us all of the different reaches and hauls of sailing, the anatomy of a sail, and the configuration of all of the stays and sails that propel us on the Vela. As always, the salon was sweltering but in a manner slightly different from watching and laughing about the PADI dive videos. There was a thrum of excitement running throughout all of us as we realized that it was now time to learn how to cross the Atlantic.
When we arrived at Peter Island, our final destination for the day, Zoe and I learned from Dylan how to drop the anchor and how to drop the anchor when the anchor didn’t want to work. I had the very important job of pressing the “down” button on the hydraulic remote. It was very skilled and demanding work. After the anchor was set, Jack and Max completed their final dives with Heather to fulfill the requirements to become certified scuba divers. While they were about to begin their ascent, Max paused the group and directed their attention to three giant and curious fish who flitted at the edge of their visibility in the water, curious about the strange bubble breathers who intruded upon their fin party. To the divers, it was a super cool memory to cement their last dive as trainees, or ‘Divers Approaching Development’ as our class was called. After they joined us on deck and the dinghy was stored away, the news was broken to us that we had all passed our exam to become certified scuba divers! We were ecstatic, and we cannot wait to start working on our advanced certification tomorrow, when we will complete three different dives and cram our heads with tons of knowledge to dive safely.
Up next was dinner, which was a super tasty Asian stir-fry, followed by our squeeze, where we all shared a few things we appreciated about the day, and everybody answered my question:
“What is something that you were excited about before the trip started, and what are you excited about now that you’re a few days in?” Overall, it was a great experience, and everybody shared really interesting and heartfelt answers. We were also graced with the best sunset we had seen so far, and many of us gathered on the stern to take photos.
Finally, we had our first leadership class that was taught by our captain Tom. It was a short meeting, mostly going over our assignments, goals, and expectations for the course. It finished with us creating partner pairs to start working on our first assignments and our presentations on leadership. Unfortunately for Annie, she will have to put up with my antics for long enough to complete our presentation.
Up next for me is a quick load of laundry tonight and then an early bedtime before another BIG DAY tomorrow! Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about another late-night anchor watch tonight.
This is Duncan Goodman as skipper signing out.
Photo 1) Daniel, Annie, and Max hiding from the sun at the Baths
Photo 2) Chansky and Heather hangin out by the pool
Photo 3) 3:17 am, minutes before disaster
Photo 4) Duncan, Abigal, Max, and Annie enjoying an early workout, while Tia walks up on deck
Photo 5) The morning’s rainbow
Photo 6) Calum teaching Abigal and Max how to hoist the anchor
Photo 7) (Left to right) Jack, Sarah, Mal, Annie, Dimitri, Natalie, and Haley are ready to grub on some brekkie
Photo 8) (Left to right) Duncan, Gigi, Hack, Daniel, Dimitri, Kayla, Chansky, and Eduardo taking a Bath
Photo 9) The students hanging out in the salon for our first nautical science class while Amanda preps dinner in the galley
Photo 10) Max and Jack completing their final dive with Heather
Photo 11) Dimitri, Haley, Duncan, Gigi, Tia, Chansky, Kayla, Abigal, Natalie, Annie, Zoe, Laura, and Dylan taking a sunset selfie
Photo 12) The beautiful sunset framing the British Virgin Islands flag that flies off the stern of Vela