Location: Cape Town
Vela has been docked at the lovely VandA Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, for the past five weeks. Teak has been revarnished, fans rewired, generators and engines serviced, sails repaired and bent back onto the rigging, food restocked and restocked some more, but Vela hasn’t felt quite like itself in all these moments. Days have been punctuated by fur seals barking, the noon cannon firing and the subsequent shudder of the tourists felt. Occasionally, trips aloft have meant locking eyes with our curious neighbors (the penguins that live in the aquarium next door), and marine life seen from the dock has checked off a multitude of Animal Sighting Bucket List items (Mola Mola, Newborn Dolphins, etc.). We’ve done many cool things in the interim, from safaris to paragliding, but still, something has been missing. Vela hasn’t felt quite right.
But that all changed today. When 16 strangers step on board as students for the first time, within minutes and hours, awkward hellos turn into inside jokes, and inevitably, someone starts a card game. Rolly Tasker bags are filled, photos are hung, and a once sterile bunk space becomes a home. Everyone shares a willingness to be weird, and a tangible excitement hangs in the air. These are the people we will safari with, swim with whale sharks, yell “dolphin!” for, and ultimately, cross an ocean with.
I did this same trip as a student, and now, having done almost every trip as a staff member, I can say (admittedly biased) that it is the best one and a guaranteed adventure. Going to places like St. Helena and Fernando de Noronha, where few will set foot in their lifetime, seeing bioluminescent waves crash over the boat while a sky streaked with stars competes for our attention, learning to surf, meeting the world’s oldest Tortoise will surely all be memorable experiences worthy of any good bucket list. But none of those things will be what makes this trip what it is. It’ll be the dishy pit laughs and watches spent in a downpour, ultimately lending themselves to a good dance party. The time spent in this incubator of mutual experience, forming closer relationships in 2 weeks at sea than in 2 years on land. Whatever thoughts come up when affronted with days of unending horizon. Unfortunately, the greatest moments of this experience will be the hardest for them to translate to you all back home, as they’re the ones most unique to this experience. Ultimately, it’s all about the people. It always is. And I’d say we’ve got a great group.
Meet the Staff!
Freddie – Skipper, Dive Master Candidate, Aspiring Trivia Champion, Non-Player of The Fastest Growing Sport in The World
Steph – Program Manager, Dive Instructor, Marine Scientist On Sabbatical, Window Roller Upper, In Charge Of Joy (Self Assigned Load To Bear), Reigning Trivia Champion, Non-Player of The Fastest Growing Sport in The World
Nick – Chief Mate, Leadership Instructor, Medic, Non-Undercover Horse Girl, Has Seen Lord Of The Rings More Times In The Last Week Than You Have Your Whole Life TM, Non-Player of The Fastest Growing Sport in The World
Allie-Mate, Leadership Instructor, Medic, Undefeated Best Blog Writer According To My Mum’s WhatsApp Messages, Fastest Hands East Of The Mississippi, Dive Master Candidate Running For Re-Election, Reigning Trivia Champion, Trying To Bring Grunting To The Fastest Growing Sport In The World
Will – Mate, Oceanography Instructor, Lost a Territory War to a Seal, Aspiring Spiderman, Peppa Pig Enthusiast, Newest Player of The Fastest Growing Sport in The World
Meghan – Marine Biology Instructor, Dive Instructor, Medic, Most Efficient Farmer’s Market Shopper, Newest Player of The Fastest Growing Sport in The World, Cohabitating With A Small Colony of Stuffed Toys
Jake – Mate, Seamanship Instructor, Dive Instructor, Best Mario Kart Racer On Vela Since Tom Went On Vacation, Clinically Spice Intolerant, Only Member of The Anger Management Team of the Fastest Growing Sport In The World
For further and admittedly more serious details on those tasked with caring for your loved ones onboard, check out the Meet The Team page of the Sea|mester website. The fastest-growing sport in the world is NOT Pickleball, people.