Location: East London, South Africa

Hey again!! I can’t believe it’s day 80 with only ten days left of the program 🙁 Time has flown, but we’ve made amazing memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. So grateful for Vela and all she’s provided for us! After a late night last night, everyone was dead asleep when it came time for wake-ups this morning. Ayden was perfectly on time for breakfast as he waited in the cockpit for all of the students to come up on deck. We enjoyed some breakfast tacos before the team leaders headed out to the grocery store for our version of a cooking challenge from the show Chopped! While they went off solving clues to acquire our four mystery ingredients, the rest of us did a boat appreciation. Groups were split from down below, cleaning the galley (especially the honey out from our snack cabinet), giving the heads a good clean, scrubbing the floors, and tidying our cabins while the group up on deck scrubbed all the white paint and rust stains carefully avoiding acid rashes. After boat appreciation, the port three stack (the best cabin, mine, obviously) heated up all our leftovers from our cookout last night for lunch as we soon prepared for our cooking challenge. Cleanup was tense as teams were whispering, researching, and plotting how they would use the four ingredients of bananas, strawberry and lime ice cream, apple juice, and mascarpone cheese to create something presentable and edible. Since Kasey won, being the first to gather everything in the grocery store, she and her team got to choose which group got which 5th ingredient out of a random selection of chocolate, pies, and syrups. The race began as we scavenged the galley for all our baking supplies. Teams got awfully competitive, racing for all the kitchenware and stovetop space, creating all our masterpieces. We finished baking and completed a mid-afternoon salty pit just in time for Steph and Jake to come back with provisions. We hoped the rain would hold off as we passed all the bags over a fence to bring them back to Vela. So much fresh food to end our trip!!

After a speedy round of putting away all our provisions, we got to tour the sailboat Neorion, our new friends we’ve seen in Richards Bay, Durban, and here docked right behind us! As much as we all love Vela, their boat is absolutely stunning! It’s so interesting to hear their stories and how their crew runs compared to our boat. Closing the night, we just had the best meal thanks to Ayden (who was finally able to redeem himself with the perfect amount of salt on the beef), Audrey as sous, and David for the best bread rolls! Cleanup is happening now as we await our friends from Neorion to come tour Vela before we finish off our deserts to be judged. Can’t believe this is the last blog I’ll be writing. My time sitting in the chart house typing away, hearing the sounds of everyone laughing and arguing while cleaning, has come to an end. I will forever be grateful for all this trip has given me, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. To everyone who’s followed my journey, thank you, and I can’t wait to share all the stories beyond these blogs with you!!

The champions of the Chopped Challenge were Margaret Jackson and Ruby for their fried banana key lime poppers! Runner up was Zoe, Lucia, and Daniel and their “Home Not a House” caramelized banana waffles, and in third place was Ava, Wes, and Ben’s cocoa mango lime banana loaf (Editor’s Note: this team was ROBBED; check out the plating and the flavor was incredible).