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Location: Cape Town

Ahoy!

Today was the first full day aboard Vela with the whole crew. There is a sense of calm chaos, but the underlying energy is very positive. I was the Skipper today, the last role I expected to be placed on the first day. The main concern was waking up on my own to get everyone else out of bed; my internal clock served me well, and I woke up a half hour before my alarm to the sounds of many jet-lagged peers already awake, adjusting to time on the opposite side of the world. After breakfast, we got our first taste of the unpredictability of life during seamester, as our planned afternoon event of dragon boating was canceled due to excessive amounts of wind. Although it was a bummer, there were still silver linings to be had, albeit in a ripping-a-bandaid-off type of way.

After breakfast, we got right into learning all about our new home for the next several months, starting the process of getting to know the many overlapping systems that keep things running smoothly. Next up, we had a riveting review of the entire student code of conduct. Following this, we had our first fire drill, which went pretty well, although we may need to shave off like half a minute, maybe more. Following the drill, we fought a hypothetical fire, and each got a turn aiming one of the fire hoses and shooting it overboard, conga-line stylea quick break with a lovely lunch prepared by our Marine Bio professor Meg. The next stop was more safety training, preparing for and preventing a hypothetical, worst-case scenario, and getting familiar with the variety of life vests, including everyone’s favorite, the Gumby suits (see attached photo). At this point, our brains were already overflowing with information, so we had our introductory overview of academics to unwind. Only joking, but it has been a lot of words. The reward of our gauntlet was a sweet one, though. Free Time!! From 3 pm until dinner, we were allowed to go explore the VandA waterfront with our peers and grab some supplies we either forgot to bring or planned to get after arrival.

Dinner was lovely, and it was my turn to pose a question to everybody for the day’s squeeze. I chose to dig deeper, asking what everyone’s goal or dream in life is. Answers varied from wanting to get cut off on free breadsticks at Olive Garden to going to space, and I was glad I asked.

Now, my last duty of the day as Skipper is to write this trip log. I wanted to give everyone a chance to send a message of their own home, so I compiled a list of short statements from all the students, and here it is in no particular order:

Arielle: “Hey, fam, I love you!”

Frida: “UV is 12! We’re having a blast, though, making great friends. Miss you!”

Maddy Ablett: “I remain on the quest for the Starbucks mug.”

Madison Hurley: “To everybody reading this, I love you all dearly. I’m having a wonderful start to the voyage! Big hugs to you all.”

Tom: “Things are going well, it’s been fun.”

Emma: “I miss you, and I love you.”

Nate: “I’m doing good!”

Christina: “South Africa is epic. Love you!”

Laszlo: “Hi mom, dad and Erzsi! South Africa is cool, and I’m doing great so far. Love you guys!”

Alva: “Baten ar cool, saknar er!”

Kip Schaner: “Missing the peeps, a new pillow has been acquired… Looking forward to the safari.”

Kaden and Charlton Schaner: “The Schaner bros are good. All got new pillows.”

Ben: “Miss you guys! Having a great time, these kids are normal.”

Sophia: “I miss my dog, and that’s about it right now.”

Being Skipper, I saved my message for last:
Hey, Mom, Dad, Shelagh, Phillip, friends, and any other family that may be reading! Love you guys very much, things are going great, already learning so much and making great friends. Thanks for the encouragement to follow through on this. It’s already worth it, and we haven’t even really begun yet!

Till next time,

Skipper Conor

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