Saturday, March 31, 2007

April Fools!

Author: Evan
Location: Ishmalia, Egypt

April Fools played a good trick on us today. We actually got to begin our journey up the canal! After an early morning and expectations of another day in Port Suez it was a nice surprise to finally say hello to our pilot, who boarded Argo for the day and escorted us up to Ishmalia. While the pilot didn't speak a lot of English, we were able to learn that he has four children. It was a bit of a silent journey with lots of pointing and "no problem." There were definitely good vibes onboard today and this joint sense of accomplishment for being in the canal, something that not a lot of people get to experience. Tonight we're anchored in the harbor in Ishmalia and tomorrow early morning we'll hopefully finish our passage through the canal to the Med.



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Friday, March 30, 2007

schoolwork and a sand storm

Author: Brittany
Location: Port Suez, Egypt

Today we were delayed again from entering the Suez Canal, and so we spent it catching up on sleep and schoolwork. We had a class- filled day and had an oceanography practical with charts of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. In the afternoon we experienced a real life sandstorm and got to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner down below (for our first salon squeeze). We were all relieved to have passed in our oceanography projects and got a fair amount of other schoolwork done.



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Thursday, March 29, 2007

happy birthday Charlie!

Author: Jay
Location: Port Suez, Egypt

Today was spent as another lay day in Port Suez, as there was a warship scheduled to make the passage through the canal. So because of security reasons we have been delayed another day. We spent most of the day putting the final touches to our OCE projects which are due tomorrow morning at 8am. Some of the shipmates who were not busy with their projects helped on deck with some maintenance that needed to be done. As the day drew to a close and the sun started setting we sat down to a fantastic dinner created by the chefs for the day Keely and Evan, with the assistance of the birthday girl, Charlie. A feast of chicken and rice cooked in a coconut milk and lime sauce with hazelnuts ensued, followed by a fantastic piece of cake for dessert. After an OCE class we headed to bed.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cairo and the pyramids

Author: Tom
Location: Port Suez, Egypt

Today was the day of our Cairo tour, and our tour guides came to pick us up quite late. We've learned that Egyptians don't share our view of punctuality. We were loaded onto a tour bus in Port Suez, complete with a police escort. This included a motorcycle in front of us, a car behind, and a man dressed in a suit with a submachine gun on the bus with us. After an hours drive we entered Cairo in heavy traffic. First we stopped on a bridge over the Nile for a view. From there we could see most of the dense city, but along the river there are still many small family farms. Once on the west side of the Nile we could see the pyramids looming in the distance. It was amazing to get up close to them. Their sheer size was incredible. It was difficult to imagine just how long ago they were constructed. We also made our way down to see the Sphinx, which was amazing to see in person. The whole area was surrounded by all sorts of vendors trying to hassle us into buying all sorts of crap. A few shipmates went for camel rides around the pyramids and came back with big smiles. Later on we went to a great buffet, and along with some Japanese tourists, stuffed our faces with Middle Eastern food. For the rest of the day our guides brought us to various shops to buy souvenirs. This included a papyrus painting gallery, a perfume maker, and a trinket store. On the way back to Port Suez we stopped at a Carrefour (just like Walmart) for provisions. It was a big effort, but it went smoothly and we took time to grab some dinner as well. By the time we got back to Argo it was nearly one in the morning. It was a long day, but none of us will forget our whirlwind tour of Cairo.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

arrival in Suez

Author: Anna
Location: Port Suez, Egypt

Today was a long and busy day, starting with our arrival in Port Suez at first light. Watch team three anchored the boat and started the cleaning process, and shortly a full BA was underway while we waited for clearance into the port. After a couple hours and much confusion, we were cleared to enter the port and anchored in an open spot away from the dozens of tankers and container ships awaiting transit. We finished BA, had a delicious lunch prepared by Jill and Brittany, and then got ready to go ashore. Because it's illegal to drive dinghy tenders in this area we had to wait for our agent to come pick us up in his motorboat, which eventually brought all of us to the yacht club. From there we took minibuses into town and explored the side streets of Port Suez; ate some street food, enjoyed ice cream cones and cold sodas, played with kids, and generally observed life in the pleasantly tourist free city. Back onboard we had some tasty pasta and brownies cooked by Chantale and are now getting ready for an oceanography quiz and seamanship class, followed by presentations on the areas we are visiting by Gigi, Justin, and Evan. Tomorrow it's off to the pyramids!

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Monday, March 26, 2007

calm weather!

Author: Chantale
Location: underway

This morning the weather calmed down and allowed us to start making better speed. We kept our reefed sails up and motor sailed through the many oil rigs, tacking back and forth to make way towards our destination. We resumed classes today with Oceanography and Professional Skipper and Crew Training classes in the afternoon, and by dinner time the wind had eased down to about 10 knots, allowing us to drop sails and motor directly towards Port Suez. We had a delicious pasta concoction from James and Jay for dinner, and it is now much easier to eat on deck with the lighter winds. We had an amazing sunset over the Egyptian mountains and desert, and are all excited for our arrival in Port Suez in the morning.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

wow that's brisk

Author: Mike M.
Location: underway

Today was one of the most enjoyable day in Egypt yet. This morning the majority of us went on a dive boat for the day, while the rest enjoyed what can only be described as the Egyptian version of Cancun. On the shuttle bus to the dive boat we passed a KFC, Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, and a Hard Rock Caf all in a row near the waterfront. This place was definitely your Egyptian dive town. Our first dive was definitely a shock to the system. Short girlish screams were heard after we all surfaced from the initial plunge. Even with two wetsuits and booties I was shivering within fifteen minutes into the dive. Oh how I long for Thai 85 degree water. We were served an awesome lunch on board and served hot tea and coffee upon exiting both the morning and afternoon dives. The coral was stunning, the service great, and a full day of laughter mixed with chattering teeth will not be soon forgotten.

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force nine

Author: Eliot
Location: underway

Departing from Sharm El Sheik last night we left with weather forecasts of gentle rolling seas and light winds, however, as we all know, meteorology isn't the most accurate of sciencesAs we rounded the southern most point of the Sinai peninsula the seas and wind started to build and the crew started to feel a little queasy. By the afternoon Argo was pounding through 15ft seas and bracing herself against steady 35-40kt winds as she beat upwind dodging the tankers and oil rigs that litter the gulf. With the winds topping out at 47kts and spray and waves dousing the decks and crew, Argo has definitely been put through some harsh conditions today but all the crew have been upbeat in these tough conditions- although they're looking forward to the slight relief that the night and easing winds will hopefully bring.

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Mar 25 Argo Update

The crew of Argo are headed north again and have hit a big blow. The crew decided to hang a right turn and stop in Sharm El Sheikh to take a look around and enjoy a dive in the Red Sea. Argo should be departing Sharm Sunday evening to finish the trip up to Port Suez.


Friday, March 23, 2007

retreat from the wind

Author: Arron
Location: Sharm el Sheik, Egypt

A long day! It started with a beautiful sunrise, calm seas and no wind well that lasted about an hour so they say the weather changes gradually. They lie! One second beautiful, the next forty knots of wind on the nose and bow watch looks like a bunch of drowned rats. So we decided it was a no go and we turned around and headed to Sharm el Sheik where we are resting, getting some studying done, and waiting to brave the rest of the Red Sea.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

on a side note, we think we saw a pilot whale, maybe

Author: Keely
Location: underway

How glad we are to be back on passage! Boomer always says "land makes you soft," and we usually sort of shrug him off and say, "yeah whatever, crazy Capt. Boomer's just in love with the ocean." Maybe that's true, but I know I felt a weight lift from my shoulders when Eliot made it back from the last battle with Ghalib-ian beaurocracy and we could hoist the dinghy back onboard. This may have something to do with the fact that I was skipper dujour, and therefore responsible for walking around with a clipboard, checking things off, looking official, and stressing, but I'm inclined to think we all heaved a sigh. Desert air out, sea air in, call up a breeze and lo! My watch team and a few newly showered shipmates (the water's getting colder- showers= balmy side of near arctic) got to raise the sails. It's good to feel the line tickling my new calluses, good to see the sails fill to the shape of broken sea shells. If you hold them to your ear you'll hear the ocean. The stars tonight will be brighter than the dock lights in Port Ghalib, I assure you. I won't need to make treasure hunts to play pirate or paper schooners and snowflakes to keep my hands busy. I love passage. Skipper Keely, signing out for the last time- the job wheel has begun it's final rotation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

water pumps

Author: Chantale
Location: Port Ghalib, Egypt

We had another day in Port Ghalib taking advantage of internet access and showers, with ample of time to catch up on school work. We had Student Leadership presentations and an Oceanography class in the morning, and a Marine Biology class in the afternoon. In between classes we fixed the martingale net, polished belaying pins and baked a cake for Anna's birthday. Right before dinner we finally received the freshwater pumps that we had been waiting for and are now installing them in the engine room; we're all set to leave for our 300 nautical mile passage to Port Suez tomorrow morning.

Mar 21 Argo Update

Chantale and Jill call in from Port Ghalib, Egypt with the first dockside podcast in a long while. Some big efforts to clean Argo and get her back on top form were balanced with some shore time and the welcomed arrival of some fresh provisions. New photos have been posted to the blog so take a swing by the Sea|mester website for the latest.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ghalicious

Author: Jill
Location: Port Ghalib, Egypt

Today was an excellent day at Port Ghalib. We got another day of some much needed R and R. Provisions came today and we got a lot of much needed fresh foods. Last night there was an awesome show at the hotel, where we saw some belly dancing and a whirling dervish. Dinner was AMAZING, fresh chicken and French bread.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Egypt time

Author: James
Location: Port Ghalib, Egypt

We had a truly relaxing day today. Nothing but lounge chairs and chilled drinks for most students, which was well deserved after a long passage. On the other hand, several crew members stayed on Argo to show her a little love. We met back onboard for a delicious dinner before an excellent night out. Good times for all, with many more to come.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

land of the Pharaohs

Author: Chris
Location: Port Ghalib, Egypt

You just know it's going to be a great day when you wake up and have the first shower in a week while watching Egypt approach at the bow. We docked in Port Ghalib at around lunch time and after a pleasantly easy customs experience we got to explore the local hotel. A feast of a buffet and a night out later we went back to Argo joyous of our defeat of the majority of the Red Sea. A brilliant day all around, though it does feel strange seeing land a meter from our starboard side.

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Mar 18 Argo Update

Justin calls in with the current news from The Red Sea. The seas remain up and the bonus of the day was the Tuna that was caught and turned quickly to sushi for all to enjoy. Argo will be in Ghalib, Egypt very soon to check back for the upcoming posts of the photos from the passage and from back in Oman.


Friday, March 16, 2007

prince of the Red Sea

Author: Justin
Location: underway

I once met a captain who sailed the Red Sea,
He was a great man and a good friend to me.
His ship was a beauty, his staff was the best,
They taught all their students with barely a rest.
The journey began in the gauntlet of danger,
The adventure was new; the course was a stranger.
Wind on the nose, the swell was quite large,
But Argo charged through, she showed who's in charge.
Tacking to port, then starboard, then port,
There never was a sign or a thought to abort.
The captain stayed strong, nothing major went wrong,
He even did while singing a song.
This story is true, I know you think how,
I can tell you it's true, it happened just now.



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Mar 16 Argo Update

Matt briefs us on the progress on Argo as she continues to beat her way uphill in the Red Sea.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

underway

Author: Andrea
Location: underway

The sun rose this morning and it will soon set. The food was just eaten and soon it will be digested. One team got off watch and another got on. And yet the waves just keep on coming. As Argonauts we never stop, we keep on battling the elements and beating up the Red Sea. According to the computer, we should be arriving in Port Ghalib twenty three days from now. I personally don't think it will take that long but I have been known to be an optimist. And even if it takes that long, who cares? The weather is nice enough and the salt accumulated on our bodies is becoming quite useful. Who needs a salt shaker when you can just shake your head over your plate? But anyhoo we are all having fun and we are all in good health and Charlie's black eye will clear up nicely.

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Mar 15 Argo Update

Cody calls in the Argo update from the Red Sea. Argo continues slowly north as they sail against the breeze and seas. Moral is high as the crew looks forward to arriving in Egypt.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

swells-ly

Author: Matt
Location: underway

We put up the mainsail this morning with three reefs in it because the wind was coming out of the north at about 25-35 knots. The swells were about ten feet on average, and we did see at least one bigger one during a tack that almost put our friend Brittany in the drink. After a very informative oceanography class about the various layers of the earth, we got a free afternoon. PSCT class was postponed so that we could keep an eye on our conditions and see how the mainsail was faring. So far it looks like the Red Sea packs more of a punch than the Indian Ocean, which is all well and good, but it appears as though we may arrive in Port Ghalib a little later than expected. Thanks for reading, and have a nice day.



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Argo Continues North towards Egypt

The crew of S/Y Argo is continuing their trek north in The Red Sea. The glass flat seas have given way to some 6-8ft swells from the north as the more standard NNW breeze has picked up to the 15-20kt range. Forward progress towards Ghalib, Egypt has slowed and the crew is expected to arrive in port late this weekend or early next week. Check back soon for the latest audio updates from the crew.
Ships position at 0900 local time was 20°29.43’N 038°33.76’E

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

weather!

Author: Julia
Location: underway

After ten days of passage to Port Ghalib, the crew of Argo is finally starting to get a taste of the weather that the Red Sea has to offer. Over the course of the night our ETA has nearly tripled, due to heavier winds, stronger current, and larger swells. With the wind coming right over our bow, Argo has been cruising between one and a half and four knots. While some mariners may be discouraged by this, we've all welcomed the change after having uncharacteristically calm weather for the past 58 days. We're all just as excited to arrive in Port Ghalib, but we'll just have to wait a few more days than planned.




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Monday, March 12, 2007

sunny day on passage

Author: Annie
Location: underway

Today marked another day on passage and one day closer to our anticipated arrival in Port Ghalib. We have continued to spend our days motoring on through the Red Sea on our watch team rotations. The sun is shining and the sea is calm, giving us another opportunity to stop the motor in the afternoon for a quiet swim and a shower. Two classes were held after lunch as usual, followed by some boat maintenance. We've been passing the time off with socializing, studying, reading, napping, sunbathing, and most importantly, doing our homework. We also celebrated Evan's 21st birthday at sea with a cake.



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Mar 12 Argo Update

Annie calls in the newest update from The Red Sea. Argo is located roughly even with the southern boarder between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Check in for more updates as the crew continues to sail Argo north towards Egypt.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

17 degrees latitude

Author: Chantale
Location: underway

This is our third day in the Red Sea and we are now passed Yemen; we are currently between Saudi Arabia and Eritrea. It's been a calm day as the swells have almost completely subsided and the wind that allowed us to sail for part of yesterday is now a very light breeze. The morning was quiet with the usual watch schedule and the VHF being much quieter than it was in the Gulf of Aden. The afternoon was busy with an extended marine biology class in which we talked about intertidal communities. During class, the watch team remaining on deck saw our first marine mammals of the Red Sea. Now that the piracy threat is much lower we felt more comfortable slowing down our progress and stopped Argo for a quick swim in the afternoon.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

into the great wide open

Author: Abbey
Location: underway

It seems like only yesterday we were first setting sail into the Indian Ocean. But no! We've made it all the way to the Red Sea. Today was our first day with the sails up since our last passage, and even though it was short lived it was exciting. There are still many tankers around us and they're still spamming the radios with talk of monkeys and grandmothers and odd noises, but we've come to laugh at them. Mostly. Also, there is a bit of a cold going around but it's nothing Anna's EMT magic can't handle. In other news, Jay and I had a wrestling match on the charthouse and I won. Also, we caught many fish. None were keepers, but at least the boys are happy. Faithfully yours, Abbey.

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Mar 10 Argo Update

Captain Boomer calls in the Argo Update from The Red Sea. They have just entered the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden and were greeted by a "Top Gun style" fly-by from a French navy pilot.
With the bow pointed north west the crew will proceed to Egypt, if the weather hold they should arrive by the end of the week or over the weekend.


Friday, March 9, 2007

fighter jets and African sunsets

Author: Boomer
Location: underway

Usually days at sea are somewhat similar, today however stood out for a number of reasons. It started early this morning when an aircraft carrier was spotted far off the starboard bow. The night before we were hailed by a French Coalition Warship requesting our particulars so we assumed this it. As we approached (of course keeping our distance) fighter jets started taking off from the flight deck of the ship. They all seemed to bank off towards Somalia but then all of the sudden coming out of the sunrise we made out one heading right for Argo. The jet swooped past Argo's rig so close that it shook the entire boat and we could make out the color of the pilots eyes. The watch team on deck erupted into cheers as we enjoyed some cinnamon rolls baked fresh by Anna. It was nice to know those guys were patrolling the air. As the sun was setting we got our first glimpse of the African Coast. This marked our turn North to head into the Red Sea. For many, including myself, it was our first look at the dark continent. Needless to say it was an amazing way to spend a sunset. As the sun dipped beneath Africa we made our way into the straits and out of the Gulf of Aden. It was an unique passage that all of us will always remember.


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Thursday, March 8, 2007

plenty more fish in the sea

Author: Mike C.
Location: underway

Another day, another day on passage it seems. We have all pretty much slipped back into the routines of watches again. Waking up for lunch, having our two lectures in the afternoon, and then studying or biding our time until our next three hour stint at the helm... A large mahi mahi struck late on in the afternoon but unfortunately it took off with our lure before we could set it. Oh well, there's plenty more fish in the seas


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Mar 8 Argo Update

Charlie calls in for the Argo update from The Gulf of Aden. All continues to go well with the passage and the continuing academic course work. We even get a bit of a serenade on this podcast as it sounds like the crew must be missing that fact that they cannot watch/compete in this season's American Idol.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

twelve year olds with walkie talkies

Author: Charlie
Location: underway

It's been another blazing hot but awesome day. Although for being in supposedly some of the most shark and pirate infested waters, I have yet to see either Last night was a busy one for bow watch- ships were flying past us from every direction! Unfortunately this also means lots of radio activity. I say unfortunately because 99.9% of what comes over the airwaves is completely useless and annoying noise and chatter. These seamen are like little bratty kids with walkie talkies! Ah well, there are worse things to deal with in life I suppose. OCE students finished up giving presentations on everything from sea turtles to red tides. Our reward: midterm tomorrow, which meant studying the rest of the day. We closed out the day with a relaxing curry supper cheffed up by Eliot and Abbey.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

three on six off

Author: Evan
Location: underway

As we near the end of our second day on passage, we're all settling back into watch groove with our new watch team members. It's funny how you can go for days without seeing people if they're not on your watch team. It's pretty amazing the part of the world we're in right now, even though as we look out at the water we could be anywhere. The down and dirty info of the day: another hot one, mostly sunny all day most likely in the high 80s. Winds have been 8-9 knots all day making it fairly windless. We're on passage again without buckets so the hose is working overtime. Abbey is having a drawing class this evening after dinner by Boomer and Mike.

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Mar 6 Argo Update

Chantale and Brittany check in with news from the first day of passage from Salalah to Egypt in addition to a recap from the final day in Oman.


Monday, March 5, 2007

Egypt here we come

Author: Brittany
Location: underway

Ok, so today was our first day of passage through the Red Sea to Egypt. We left yesterday evening after an adventurous fuelling mission that lasted well beyond dinner time. We ate some late night barbeque chicken, and began watch teams at 9 pm. We lost sight of land, but we have had an eventful day listening to the ongoing radio conversations. Everyone seems to be falling into watch team rotations again, and this time it's even more exciting because we've made some major adjustments to the groups. It's definitely a little weird waking up a whole new crew of people, and I'm sure we'll all be a little on-edge for the next few nights or so, hoping we haven't missed watch! Well, here's looking forward to another successful passage- our last big one!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

goodbye Salalah, hello Egypt!

Author: Jay
Location: underway

With today being the last day before our last long passage of 1600nm, there was much to do. The morning was put aside for some first aid training, then it was time to split into groups and get Argo ready for the long trip to Egypt. With the weather being really hot, everyone worked fast and got the boat sorted and headed back down below to get some rest and study. With our departure time fast approaching one last boat job remained. We needed to fill our tanks with 3500 liters of diesel, which is always an interesting affair. After our fueling we said goodbye to our friends Christine and Mohamed and with Boomer at the helm, headed out into the night eating a fantastic dinner made my Charlie and Keely.


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Saturday, March 3, 2007

adventures in Oman

Author: Tommy
Location: Salalah, Oman

This was a full day of sightseeing. At eight in the morning we embarked on a small bus to see nearly everything of interest in the area. We drove along the coast for a while, paralleling the beautiful beaches and amazing shore breaks. We stopped at some large sand dunes along the way. After jumping and rolling around in the sand we went to a nearby coastal village. It was mostly abandoned but we were able to see some old architecture and visit the ruins of an ancient city which was the frankincense trading hub before Jesus was around. We then went up into the inland hills where the nomadic Bedouins live, and we hung out with their camels. Nearby we saw some natural springs with beautiful clear water. We ended up meeting a biology class there from a local university. By this time it was getting late in the afternoon and our stomachs were crying out. We stopped at an outdoor family style restaurant. The hummus and lamb were excellent, along with the traditional sheesha we smoked from hookahs. After we were off in the bus slowly climbing into the mountains with Neil Diamond blasting over the stereo. We then entered a mosque that contained the tomb of the Biblical character Job. He was clearly a big man, seeing as the coffin was nearly ten feet long. We finished our day checking out Salalah's suk, which is an open air market. A few of us bought turbans, which are actually called musaras. It was a long, tiring day, but we all agreed that it was one of our best. Oman has somehow stolen our hearts, and it will be sad to leave.



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Mar 3 Argo Update

Anna updates us on the day in Salalah, Oman. More time ashore provided the crew with lots of good stories and everyone aboard enjoys their time on the terra firma.


Friday, March 2, 2007

exploring Salalah

Author: Anna
Location: Port Salalah, Oman

The day started pretty early for several enterprising shipmates that went on a 6am run this morning, and for our chefs who were working hard in the galley to make some delicious pancakes for breakfast. A quick scheduling meeting followed breakfast cleanup and then everyone had the day free to explore Salalah. Most made their way into town- with a few adventures along the way. When all were back onboard for dinner we were regaled with humorous stories of taxi drivers, restaurants, convenience stores, ATMS, and ice cream. It sounds like everyone had a great time on shore. We finished up this evening with a movie for the Student Leadership class and now people are winding down with tea on deck, studying, and sleep before anchor watch.

Mar 2 Argo Update

Gigi gives us and update on the first day in Oman. Lots of details on adventures aboard and ashore.


Thursday, March 1, 2007

first day in Oman

Author: Gigi
Location: Port Salalah, Oman

So today was our first full day at anchor, and we're all just as tired a if we were still at sea! After our night out last night at an English sports bar (with bowling lanes!) we all fell fast asleep until we woke up to our first group breakfast since the Maldives. As the day went on, part of the crew remained onboard working in the engine room, relaxing, and catching up on their studies, while others ventured out on the town in full head to toe clothing. At the beach in town camels chased down tourists bathing in the sun as we sat and packed down some much needed ice cream. After dinner the oceanography students took a short quiz followed by the marine bio students watching The March of the Penguins. Overall, it was an amazing day in Oman that exceeded all of our expectations.

into the desert

Author: Eliot
Location: Port Salalah, Oman

Waking up for watch at 3am we could already see the lights of Oman in the distance, with tankers and other yachts popping up on the radar all over the place we'd definitely arrived. We hailed the port authority and were asked to anchor up inside the container port along with many other cruising boats. Settled in to our industrial home for the next few days, it was time to repay Argo for the service she'd done to us over the past few weeks on passage and while Boomer dealt with immigration and customs, the rest of us set about making her shine again. A good few hours of cleaning and polishing later and Argo was restored to her full glory. Our customs agent invited us to a BBQ along with many of the other cruisers in the harbour. Expecting to be taken off to the desert to find roasted camel we were very pleasantly surprised to be ushered into a western style bar with a huge balcony overlooking the beaches and cliffs on Oman. Fully stuffed with curry and bbq meat the crew set about playing pool, darts and bowling and enjoying some of the luxuries of shore. It was a great evening but I'm looking forward to exploring some of the real side of this very different country tomorrow.

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