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Location: Young Island, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Katie spun over, wrapped in sheets, and shot me down with a shocking look of disdain. I had to hold my ground, however, and pressed on with my encouraging hype about the coming day. She later claimed to be simply confused, waking up to a charismatic monologue about the many good reasons for meeting the day head-on. Max didn’t respond to the unrehearsed speech, until his pillow was jerked out from under his head, but Kaitlyn and Hannah thought this was the brightest way sea’s the day, as they propped up with eager smiles to hear about the birds and the seas, and the places we’d be. I also just had to remind them all that there was an outstanding Caribbean island outside the companionway, and that they should remember to appreciate it. There was no retort to that.

Leo (Leoni) took off soon after breakfast with Meghan and Madisyn to stock up on supplies for the upcoming passage to Bonaire. The rest of us jumped to our chosen jobs as we began to prep STV Vela for the trip, showing her a bit of love in the form of BA and passage prep. Anthony, Colm, Valentina and Sonnet hopped down into our trusty dinghy, Angkarn, to begin a topside scrub of the outer part of the shiny hull. If it weren’t wet enough with fresh water being blown in their direction by the wind, at some point or another, each of them toppled into the blue by mistake while precariously balanced on the pontoon trying to wield a ten-foot pole. Indeed, despite protesting shrieks of laughter, gravity got the better of each of them. Except for Sonnet. She kept her composure till the very end, at which point Anthony decided that she was missing out, and took it upon himself to dunk her. I poked over the edge to inspect their progress and found all four people floundering in the water. What a fun office to be working in!

The rest of the jobs were soon completed as well though; deck scrubbed, sail-covers removed and halyards attached above decks, with walls and floors scrubbed, bunks cleaned with new linen, and the galley overhauled as well. All done before lunch the most marvelous quesadillas by Will and Maddie. These were cooked in great abundance too, and were flattened in no time, as though by ravenous gannets.

Cleanup passed and a handful of us bipedal mammals resolved to touch the seafloor, some 20 metres (64 feet) below the shimmering surface on a single breath of air. This was mostly for recreation, but also to retrieve Greg’s white towels, which had mysteriously disappeared from their place of safety on the stern life-lines. Free diving has become somewhat of a sport here on Vela, with depth and time limits being pushed. Maddie (Madeline), who has a natural talent for the pursuit, broke a personal and a trip record with her towel retrieval dive. Others tried to repeat her feat, but nobody could do it more than once, let alone three times as she did. The rest of us enjoyed our duck diving and practiced those deep breath-holds regardless, still continuing to improve on depth and time. Max struggles to equalise rapidly, and so takes up to a minute to reach his depths of up to 12 metres, before he has to turn his dive and surface after a whopping 90 seconds. He can usually be seen pinching his nose, doing one of his equalisation stops every couple of metres on descent. Finally we ended with a bubble-ring-blowing session.

Other quieter personal moments today included sitting down with Jordan and a cup of tea, to share the Jolly-Jammers he’d offered and knows I love, and also receiving a helpful guitar lesson on reading tabs by Max. Thank you Charlie for lending us your guitar!

The sky was a burnished scarlet as we settled into dinner, and the water reflected its glow as we moved into squeeze. In the dying of the light, squeeze had us picture ourselves as the elderly; what would WE have to say to the kids these days? To the avid readers/parents/grandparents, any guesses as to what your special one’s reply was…?

I’m also grateful today for the mechanics at the horsepital who were able to bore out the old cylinders and install a new RACOR in front of the old fuel pump. May it pump strong, and with purpose Dad! Love you Xxxxx .

Picture 1: A stellar string of bubble-rings!
Picture 2: Anthony and Val perched on the brink of splashdom while scrubbing Vela’s bottom.
Picture 3: Maddie’s record breaking dive to 20 Metres
Picture 4: Max sitting at one one of his descent equalisation stops, about 50 seconds into a breath hold dive, only halfway to his target depth. MADMAX
Picture 5: unloading of provisions
Picture 6: the topsiders… (some of..)
Picture 7: Meghan maintaining high standards of cleanliness on deck
Picture 8: Anthony pretending to maintain high standards of cleanliness on deck
Picture 9: Charlie’s nervous smile before taking Sonnet’s temperature (she’s pretty excited about it all)
Picture 10: Hannah caught off guard by the camera
Picture 11: Jordan focussed on maintaining high standards of below deck cleanliness.

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