Friday, December 12, 2008

Hasta Luego!

Author: Kirsty Nash
Location: Phuket
Today was a bittersweet moment for all aboard Argo; everyone is excited about going home and seeing family, but there was a feeling of sadness about parting from newly made friends, who by this stage of living in such close confines, feel very much like family. It has been a momentous trip, from the opening night barbeque 4,585 miles ago, way back in Cairns, to the surfing in Bali, the orangutans in Borneo, the kings cup in Phuket, and now to our last day and night aboard our floating home. I wish you could all see Argo right now, she shines, the gunnels are polished, the doorades gleam, the galley is spotless. It has been a long day of tidying, cleaning and packing but once the hard work was complete we headed out for a night of Thai food and hospitality. There is not much more to say, your child, sibling, friend will. I'm sure they will regale you with stories on their return. But for my part I would like to say thank you to everyone aboard for a great 90 days and for all the experiences we have shared.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Day of Lasts

Author: Court Noyes
Location: Phuket
Today was a day of lasts. It was the last passage, last anchor raise, last sail raise, last anchor watch, and the last sail flake. It was a final hurrah, a day a lasts, but also a day to celebrate. For we, the crew of Argo, had sailed Argo 4,585 miles from Cairns to Phuket. The day started at 0520 when I went to wake everybody up. The crew staggered out of their bunks and into passage mode and raised the sails. Later in the day I remember packing my bag and realizing that everything did not get into two duffel bags. I looked at them and realized they were mostly full of gifts. But then I realized that the real gift should be the experiences and the stories that you will tell. Argo is a sea going vessel, and we are proud of her tenacity. I packed up today with the song "I'm leaving on a jet plane" in my head, never truly understanding why. I finally realized that this trip was coming to an end, and it made my heart turn over in awe and incomprehension. To put into words the love that we all felt for one another may seem impossible, but suffice it to say that each and every one of us will want to relive the good times. Simon had a few more words for the crew as he introduced the closing program, a tradition aboard Argo which happens on the penultimate night. Looking back on this day, at a final passage day which truly embodies the essence of Sea|mester, I am again filled with emotions that range from bliss to sadness. I know that this has been the time of my life. I hope that the crew shall not forget the connection we all have ingrained in our callused and wind swept hands. For the crew that is now sleeping below deck is the real team that no one can pull apart, no matter the distance. For we are a team of sailors, shipmates, cabin mates, friends, and racers. We are proud to say that we are the crew of Argo, Fall 2008. Get Some.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Swimming in the Similans

Author: Melissa Phillips
Location: Similan Islands
When we arrived at the anchorage we couldn't believe our eyes. Fish swam up to the boat and turtles played nearby. The water was so clear you could see fish 50 feet deep. After breakfast the PSCT student took their retakes while everyone cleaned their bunks. The time to go home was getting closer. At the beach we played in the sand and snorkeled.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This is it

Author: Jack Pincus
Location: Similan Islands
We spent the day living it up as children of paradise. Our schoolwork was all but finished, and all we had to worry about was getting ourselves to the next dive site. We motored away from Donald Duck bay to a different dive site where we had planned to spend the night only to discover that there was no mooring ball and the depth was far too deep for us to anchor. Still, the divers suited up and got in while Argo idled by with the non divers lazing away with their books or just daydreaming. From there we headed out to a new mooring ball at a new bay where the water was still clear enough for us to see the hundreds of fish between us and the bottom 60 feet away. This is the essence of Sea|mester.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sailing to the Island of the Sail

Author: Torsten Reischmann
Location: Similan Islands
Concluding our night passage from Phuket to the Similan Island we finally arrived at the Island of the Sail in the early morning. The island got its name from a very large rock looking like a sail (though some see Donald Duck instead). We spend the day diving, snorkeling, and exploring the Island, especially the amazing rock formation and perfectly white beaches. After days of anchor watch every night and the overnight passage we tried to start some early sleep - some very early, some after a last night dive - to be well prepared for the next busy day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Celebrate

Author: Chris Uyeda
Location: Phuket
Yesterday, Beau, being the punctual young man that he is, wrote his blog at 6pm. My official "blog shift" started at 12am, which means that everything that happened from 6pm to 12am fell into a mysterious black hole of undocumented time. Normally, this would not be a problem as shipmates are typically sleeping but as it turns out one of the more amazing events of this trip occurred after 6pm last night. So, although technically the event falls outside the jurisdiction of my blog, the epic nature of the event compels me to expound on what happened. As you know yesterday was the final day of the Kings Cup Regatta. As part of the culmination there was a final ceremony. To briefly summarize, it was incredible. First, the prizes for the overall placing (Argo took 2nd in her division) were awarded by an emissary of the King. The emissary is considered to act directly for the King and is a man of such respect that many Thai people do not look him directly in the eye. Following the awards there was a closing celebration at the Kata Beach Resort which included a live band, a pool, hundreds of happy sailors, and lots and lots of free delicious food. We danced, we feasted, we shook hands, we feasted some more. It was a night of revelry that I am not sure has a parallel among other competitive sports. People that were at each others throats just hours ago were mingling, smiling and dancing as if in a tribe. Before last night I didn't know much about yachtsmen, regattas, or competitive sailing. Now I know these are people who know how to celebrate.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Back Aboard!

Author: Beau Silver
Location: Phuket
I wake up at 6 to meet Simon, Chris and Kevin to pick me up from the beach to go racing. It was a very successful day, I did not injure myself further and I did not get wet upon getting aboard. We raced today. It was magnificent! The wind was howling and we were flying past the competition. This has been a great day, I don't think I have smiled so much in my life!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Silolona and Awards

Author: Abbey Stern
Location: Phuket
Today was glorious. We didn't finish first in the race, but we didn't come in last either! As always, racing Argo was very fun. After that, though, we were able to got to the day's award ceremony. Good food and a lot of people. We got to see our friends from Silolona, the beautiful Indonesian vessel across the bay. Then after the ceremony we were able to go to Silolona! The gorgeous boat again welcomed us with music. This time, the best drummer in all of Indonesia who played at the award ceremony played for us on the boat. The man inspired awe, to say the least. All in all, it was one of the best Sea|mester days I can recall.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Puff On

Author: Xander Stewart
Location: Phuket
Today was good. It got on a boat that was real fine. It was nicer then my double wide in the woods. We love 'taters on Argo. We lost the race and I was sad. What up Pop, Adelaide, Mom, Jethro, Fat-Bak, and my other peeps. Shout out to the great state of Louisiana. Whoo-weee!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kings Cup Day Two

Author: Simon Koch
Location: Phuket
Today was day two of the Kings Cup Regatta. Argo scored highly with a first place yesterday so the bar had been set high. Wind conditions varied from 0-20 knots all over the figure 8 shaped course. Argo and her crew performed flawlessly ending the day with another first. Later the crew was invited aboard a very unique Phinisi schooner from Indonesia that was built specifically for luxury charter. Patti, the owner was extremely kind and showed us around and explained the myth of Silolona, the Indonesian prince who sailed to the sun and created the stars. Patti named her schooner after this myth. The Indonesian crew entertained us and Argo's crew danced and sang along until it was time for dinner.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Total Domination

Author: Molly Ashkenas
Location: Phuket
Today I woke up early, excited for our first race in the Kings Cup. I came on deck early, at 6:15am to find Xander in his racing shirt and gloves, inspecting the mainsheet and pacing around the cockpit. Although, we weren't all as antsy as Xander, the group's energy was definitely high. As the gusty winds blew our breakfast cereal all over the deck, we could tell it was going to be a good race (and it was). The course was long - about 30 miles, 4 hours, - and around a bunch of islands. From the starting line we pulled in front of our competition, gained ground, and then completely lost them in our bubbly wake. Winds were strong - at points we were flying at almost 11 knots with all 6 sails full. We ended up beasting the competition by 30 minutes, whooeee! Now we get to pretend to study for finals while praying for more wind tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kings Cup Practice Race

Author: Thomas Belk
Location: Phuket
Today we started out with pancakes for breakfast then attended classes of OCE and SLD. Finally it was time for the practice race. All of Argo's inhabitants put on white T's and their PFDs then did a practice race in classic class. It turns out that we were the only boat in our class so we had no competition. After a some fun sailing, we called it a day and headed back to our anchorage

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kings Cup Prep

Author: Blake Cannino
Location: Phuket
Today was non stop. Luckily, however, I had a night off from anchor watch so I was well rested. We kicked it off (the day) with OCB class, during that the people who didn't have the class went to the little remote beach we were at. Everyone ended up on the beach and just snorkeled around there. We left to go back to Kata Beach for lunch. Following lunch we dove into a four hour BA! Had to get done though since the Kings Cup Regatta is coming up. After dinner we were supposed to have SLD class but ended up having a night out instead. Almost December!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beaches and Buddha

Author: Samantha Englender
Location: Phuket
Today the group experienced their first true excursion on Thailand soil. Several shipmates took a tuk-tuk (a kind of open-air taxi ie. a truck with benches) up to the "the giant Buddha of Phuket." A monument so huge that it can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Phuket. Others took advantage of cheap vendor swag, and of course, many replenished their chocolate stocks. After lunch we moved to a more secluded anchorage at a tiny beach called Ao Mum Mok, where an abandoned Seuss-like resort barely stood and a statue of a large goat were all that told of past attractions. We retired that night looking forward to an intense BA and the upcoming Kings Cup!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Round Two

Author: Aaron Flaster
Location: Phuket
We started off this morning anchored at Ko Racha Island which is about 13 miles away from Phuket. Last night we had an awesome Thanksgiving feast at a plush hotel on the island, but instead of turkey we had a choice of steak, chicken or fish. We also got to hang out afterwards on the beach with our feet in the sand. We left Ko Racha island this morning with sails raised and the engine off. We also broke our timed record for raising the sails with a new time of 11.5 minutes! When we arrived back in Phuket we did a quick deck wash and prepared ourselves for the traditional Thanksgiving feast that was in store for tonight. After several hours of intense cooking and people slaving in the galley looking for any scraps of turkey they could get their hands on, dinner was finally laid out on top of the charthouse. Here's a taste of the extravagant menu we had to choose from: two huge pans of tender turkey, fresh corn casserole, stuffing (correction: bomb stuffing), perfectly cooked string beans, tasty mashed taters, delicious gravy to spread over every morsel. Last but definitely not least, pumpkin and apple pie that melted in our mouths and excited every taste bud known to man. By the end people were beginning to fade off with overfull bellies but Brian stayed strong with five servings. The meal was amazing and it made me smile when one of the shipmates remarked how it felt like she was eating with a bunch of siblings because it hit me how much like a family we really are.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day

Author: Brian Gamble
Location: Ko Racha
Turkey Day on Argo was nothing less than epic. We went diving in the morning and afternoon. The diversity of fish and colors of organisms were overwhelmingly awesome. Then Sea|mester treated us to a Thanksgiving dinner at a nice restaurant. It was perfect, and may I say delicious. Then we finished the day by having a night out on the beach with our feet in the beautiful white Thai sand. This will go down as a Thanksgiving that I will forever be thankful for. Gobble, gobble and go Ravens!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Butterball in Thailand

Author: Monica Catalano
Location: Phuket
I love Thailand! Nice people, beautiful scenery, and two Butterball turkeys with Argo's name on them at the local grocery store. While Kevin and I provisioned for our Turkey Day feast this morning, the rest of the crew headed to the Phuket Aquarium for a tour and meeting with a local operation called Green Fins. Green Fins does coral conservation in Southeast Asia and the students were given a presentation on the projects they are working on. Once back on board, we moved the boat to a new location - Ko Racha - where we will be doing some more advanced open water dives and celebrating Thanksgiving. We also learned some interesting facts tonight about the crew during the squeeze. For instance, Court used to make balloon animals when he worked as a clown, Captain Simon used to raise doves as a child, Molly skinned animals as a summer job, and Hannah has llamas that spend their evenings in the living room along with the rest of the family. Unfortunately our journey is quickly coming to an end, but I know our families will be excited to see us soon. I know I am excited to see them!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcome to Thailand

Author: Hannah Hartley-Shepherd
Location: Underway to Phuket
This morning at about 9am we sailed over the border into Thailand, our final destination of the trip. Something we all try to do every time we enter a new country is learn how to say thank you in their language. With only 3 weeks left in the program, everyone scrambling to get papers done, studying for MTE and PSCT, working on our final OCE group projects, everything very hectic and with everyone getting barely enough sleep. Arriving in Thailand was somewhat of a relief, knowing that we had reached our final destination. With the Kings Cup coming up fast we are all getting very excited. Argo has raced once before in the Kings Cup in 2006. We all have been practicing our sailing as much as possible. We are a little out of touch with being in the doldrums for most of the trip, we only really sailed back in Australia at the beginning of the trip. All of the crew can't wait until we cross that finish line.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Judgement Day

Author: Nick Herman
Location: Langkawi
As we awoke today, we all came up on deck to a gloomy sight - gray clouds smothering the sun and a slight drizzle kissing our faces. This type of weather could only mean on thing, finals. Not just any final either, an MTE final. This test could spell the end for all hopeful professional skippers. The skippers in training would need an 80% to continue their PSCT education, a steep request for any human being. This test is no ordinary test either; it is the SAT of sailing exams, roughly 3 hours of testing per person. When it was all over, we were both relieved that it was over and anxious for the results. Immediately following the exam we had lunch, followed by a little shore time. Once back aboard we were greeted with the news that our exams had been graded, but we had to wait until after dinner to hear the results. Those three hours of waiting were the most anxious filled hours of the whole trip. During dinner, Kate and Simon were pestered with requests for grade updates. They fought off long and hard and eventually we got through. After dinner we got our results. Due to the confidential material I cannot reveal any specific results. It's all a very hush, hush, highly classified, read only, on a need to know basis, situation. Simply informing you of its existence could put me at risk. On a lighter note we celebrated the birthday of one of our staff members, Kirsty Nash, our Marine Biology teacher. We were treated to gluten free upside down cake, homemade of course, at dinner. I will not mention what age she turned for fear of my OCB grade dropping. Following all the events of the day we were greeted joyfully as the return of our beloved OCE teacher, Chris, occurred as we were just finishing our preparation to set sail. We now move to Phuket, Thailand where all new adventures await us.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Race Training

Author: Sam Higgins
Location: Langkawi
Today was a day to brush up on our sailing skills. With the Kings Cup coming up soon Kate and Simon gave us a brief, but informative mini class on racing. They went through all the courses that we will most likely be sailing on, along with the race rules and how to start the race since you can't just go right from the start line. The morning breeze picked up for us and we were able to sail at a good speed. Two buoys were put in the water for markers to go around. We would jibe and tack around the markers. Everyone was given a task on deck to do. There was a foredeck crew, midship crew, and a crew on the main sheet. We really loved it because we haven't been sailing too often due to the lack of wind. By the end of our maneuvers all of us had a good idea of what a race might feel like. All in all the day was a good one. It not only refreshed our memory about Argo, but we all laughed in the end.

A Limerick

Author: Kate Sundquist
Location: Langkawi
We all have a dear friend named Beau
Who's been with us through high and low.
He's not feeling so hot
So onboard he's not
We miss him much here on Argo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A couple more days

Author: Garrett Jacobs
Location: Langkawi
With our injured shipmate on our minds we all had a day to settle our thoughts. With exhaustion and work bearing down on us, our stay in Langkawi was extended. Some decided to venture ashore either riding a cable car to a mountain peak, checking the internet, riding horses, eating KFC, or meandering about. Others, myself included, remained on Argo for some recuperation from the spreading colds. Taking a few naps and catching up on work I huddled down below like a cave dweller, getting air only for feeding time. To raise morale, a few shipmates visited our lost dog bearing notes, news, and chocolate. Although we would like to be on the move, we rest, nestled just beyond the breakwater, at the foot of jungle covered peaks, watching the constant clouds roll our way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shore vs. Sea

Author: Kevin Johnsen
Location: Pulau Langkawi
There are two types of days on Seamester, sailing days and shore days. Sailing days are beautiful. We are out on the open ocean all on our own, Argo and the elements. Life is simpler on the sea. We are at peace there as we dance our dance upon the waves. Shore is a sight of accomplishment. We have made it from point A to point B. With every new port comes a sense of pride in another successful passage. A shore day is a day of adventure. New sights, strange customs, exotic foods and endless possibility await us ashore. A sense of giddy excitement takes over for each of us. Today is another shore day. What will we find, who knows? But I always look forward towards finding out. New sailors will often count their days to when they will be on shore again, 'old salts' count their days until they are back out to sea. I am ready to dance upon the waves once again. I guess this sailor is becoming an old salt.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A change of scenery

Author: Coulter Lenhart
Location: Langkawi
After spending several days exploring Langkawi we woke in the morning to a nice hearty breakfast. The shipmates that are in PSCT spent the night before doing some last minute studying for the tides and current exam which followed right after breakfast. After the exam the plan was to raise anchor and motor around to the other side of the island. It was a short passage and we arrived at our new location just shortly after lunch. The new anchorage was beautiful surrounded by large mountains, one of which had a gondola that would take you up to the top. It was a relaxing day and we could not wait for the waterfall the next day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The places we find ourselves

Author: Tor Low
Location: Langkawi, Malaysia
Today started out like any normal day in port. Most of the crew woke up at 7:15 but some of the early risers got up at 6 and went on a run around town but back on board for a scrumptious breakfast at 7:30 consisting of oatmeal, fruit and cereal. After breakfast and cleanup we had a Marine Bio class where we watched one of the many Blue Planet videos onboard. After class we were told that today we were going to tour a shrimp farm. I don't know about all you people out there but when we thought shrimp farm we thought Bubba Gump style or something consisting of a few buildings, a lot of hatcheries, the strong stench of fish and some ponds. We were proven quite differently as the day took a more bizarre turn. We met up for the taxi's to take us there at 12:30 and when we arrived at the facility we were greeted by this crazy and energetic woman named C.T. She spoke some pretty impressive English and told us we were in for a treat today. She took us on the grand tour explaining much about the shrimp farm industry and showing us all the eco-friendly ponds and hatcheries. They raised two types of shrimp until fully grown in about 4 months and they supply the entire island with their only source of fresh, anti-biotic free shrimp. But enough about that she said, lets get to the fun part. She divided us into three different groups and told us we were going to be horseback riding, fishing and taking our best shots at archery. Who knew we were in for such an eventful afternoon, it almost felt like summer camp. But as true Seamester-ers we jumped right in with both feet. In the fishing station, Torsten caught a fish right off the bat while some of the others didn't have much luck. Now time for some horseback riding. Lets keep in mind that these were not just any horses but ex-polo and racing horses so they were a little smaller in size than what everyone was used to back home. The guides were a little hesitant to let us off there leads but when they were finally persuaded otherwise many of the shipmates who had previous experience with riding or personally own horses back home took their turns at showing off their riding skills. Thomas impressed everyone with his skill and agility while keeping the ex- racing horse under control and galloping around, while Court provided us with our comic relief of the day as he attempted to post while trotting the horse around. In the Archery department Sam E. and Coulter showed everyone up with their accurate shot and technique. After everyone had a turn at all the activities it was time for some cooking lessons. C.T. and some of the chefs that work there showed us how to prepare prawns in a series of different ways. We learned how to saut them, steam them and fry them up in breadcrumbs with a special sauce to drizzle over. Next came the best part in my opinion, the tasting. We sampled them all and I think everyone can agree that they were some of the best prawns we had ever had and for some people the first prawns they had ever had. As our tour came to an end and we said good-bye to C.T. and took one last group picture with her and the two horses, we all agreed that this tour had exceeded all of our expectations and laughed at what an interesting day it had turned out to be. But it was definitely not over. After arriving back on board Argo, having dinner and finishing cleanup, James announced that he rented a time slot at the local indoor soccer facility in Langkawi and asked who wanted to join. 11 of the shipmates and two of the staff were so down and rose to the occasion. We jumped into two taxis and made our way to the arena. As we walked in every single Malaysian man sitting in there stopped and stared as our motley crew waltzed in, not knowing what we were in store for. After the proper stretching and warm up, we continued to play for an hour and a half and sweated more than a typical day onboard Argo, which is pretty impressive. We all had an amazing time and were glad that we chose to come along. I was pretty impressed with the vigor and skill that I saw on the field and the staff members definitely held their own. After the game ended everyone left with a glowing red face and a giant smile on their faces. We all agreed on the taxi ride home that this had been one of the most bizarre, but interesting and fun days that we have had in a long time, but again just another day in the life

P.S. Lots of love and gratitude to the Low Family, (in particular Pappapa) for this opportunity, can't express how thankful I am. One love to the rest of my other family, you know who you are. Peace.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Work is the pathway to happiness

Author: Kirsty
Location: Langkawi
If there are three tenets of Sea|mester, they would be as follows:
1. Get there under sail.
2. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
3. Happiness comes from long days of work and play

Today we worked hard at achieving all three of these goals. The shipmates ran their first sail, organising and implementing the entire passage from Pulau Payar to Langkawi; all the details were accounted for as they calculated tidal currents, wind direction, speed underway and position, all with only the use of traditional sailing tools and without the use of modern technology such as GPS or map plotting software. And so the staff became deckhands and the shipmates skippered the vessel smoothly and professionally into new waters. The fun did not end there, as we approached our next stop, the boat became a hive of activity as we cleaned Argo from top to bottom, till everything from the fridge to the gunnels gleamed and the air was permeated with the smell of polish and bleach. Such a day could only be rounded off properly with a night out and so we set forth in the dinghies to hit the shore and explore what Langkawi had to offer. As one shipmate said subsequently, "it was the best night out yet". But as we enter the last third of our trip, there has definitely been talk of home and a feeling of thankfulness to the people who have facilitated our being here or supported us over the course of our travels. One thing is for sure, without the important people at home we would not be smiling and happy in Langkawi!

Before I end this entry, I would like to take the opportunity to reveal the man behind the mask so to speak. Chris works tirelessly to produce the blogs, upload the pictures and provide news on us and our antics. If he were English, I might call him a Borrower (a little man that lives under the floorboards in the UK and comes out at night to clean the house and do all the hard work), because you never see him in the photos, you just get to see the results of his hard work. So today I would like to thank him for keeping my parents informed on a daily basis of my whereabouts and for generally putting minds at ease across the States.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just Another Day in Paradise

Author: Courtland Noyes
Location: Pulau Payar, Malaysia
Day 62. Less than 30 days. It is hard to imagine that we are 2/3 of the way done with this trip. It's funny to me, we can't wait for our own anchor watches in the middle of the night to be over, yet wish the clock would stop as we sail around these magnificent Island of Malaysia. After days like today it is hard to imagine that you would rather be anywhere else in the world. Today was a day for the records. On this sunny, beautiful day in the paradise of Palau Payar we swam with sharks. Well, technically we snorkeled and swam with them as they were feeding at the Marine Park, but that is even more awe inspiring. The sharks, fish, and other sea creatures swim into the sandy beach area to feed everyday at around 1pm, and then leave again to swim out to the ocean depths. It is truly magical to see the sea life around you, and some were lucky enough to see a huge barracuda hanging out on the edge of the reef, past the sandy feeding area. The day included diving as well, enabling students to tackle some of the advanced diving skills and identify sea life. To be able to relax aboard the ship, or enjoy the sandy shores is truly a treat, and for those adventurous enough there was a hike around the small island where you could get some great photos. Beau and Melissa found an inter tube while checking out a nearby beach to the enjoyment of all. The black rubber inflatable is now lashed securely in the dinghy, sure to come out again. The day was your own, and as some relaxed in the sun, others chose to spend the afternoon hitting the books on deck, studying for the feared Profesional Skipper and Crew Training (PSCT) Meteorology Exam. The PSCT students took the exam after dinner, and when it concluded the entire crew gathered for a meeting to discuss the next great adventure: sailing 20 nautical miles in total command of the vessel to our next destination, on our own without the staff. To wind things down there was another activity. James, who is going for his Divemaster certification, decided to head up a night snorkel, much to the excitement of all. Anyone who wanted to could grab a partner and go snorkeling in the sparkling luminescent water in the moonlight before calling it a day. When it was all over, it was just a standard day aboard Argo. Another day. Just another moment to remember in paradise, and yet; it is another chance of a lifetime to be thankful for.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Little Island

Author: Melissa Phillips
Location: Pulau Payar, Malaysia
Today was a good day. After breakfast the diving began. Unlike before, the advanced divers dove straight off Argo so our gear was spread out across the deck. For those of us who stayed behind Kate took us exploring. The island proved to be full of adventure and excitement. We discovered a cave but were not prepared without a flashlight. After lunch, the shark snorkelers went onto the island to feed the fish. Dinner was good.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paradise Revisited

Author: Jack Pincus
Location: Pulau Payar, Malaysia
Another scenic island paradise in Malaysia. A national park known as Pulau Payar just south of the island of Langkawi. Verdant green jungles rise from warm tropical waters to high peaks on islands less than a mile in their smallest dimension. The lush green mat of the forest is punctuated occasionally by a single tree towering above all the others announcing with its grand size and solid limbs that it was here before us and will be here waiting for Argo after her next circumnavigation. These are the waters of paradise. We pulled into this place just before lunch today, coming off of our 18 hour,115 mile jaunt up the coast from our last tropical paradise, Pulau Pangkor to the south. The excitement is always the same when we make landfall at a new place, and they are all new to us. We steal glances at the shoreline and beaches as we work to drop the sails and ready the boat to tie up to her mooring. After eating lunch, we are buzzing with the excitement of something new. We wonder aloud about what we will do and see. Is there anything to do on shore? Can we go swimming here? Where will we go diving tomorrow? Did you see that enormous jellyfish? We were able to take a swim off of the side of Argo, mostly to collect a few samples to look at under microscopes. A few the shipmates took one of the dinghies and went snorkeling at a small island, where they were eyed by sharks with the same caution that they eyed the sharks. For the rest of the questions we will have to wait until tomorrow when we will have a full day to hike, dive, swim and explore paradise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Boomswing Day

Author: Torsten Reischmann
Location: Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia
Our day in Pulau Pangkor was shorter than expected as the conditions did not allow for the planned dives and we were thus moving to the next Island, Pulau Paya, in the afternoon. The day, however, started out with a general clean up of the boat as the rain left a black layer of dirt all over Argo. Due to the great effort of the crew doing a good job we finished early before lunch allowing us to move forward to the highlight of the day: the boomswing. This fun event was set up by topping the boom high up, securing it and attaching a line to hold on during the swing. Everyone enjoyed climbing up, grabbing the rope, feeling the acceleration when jumping off the boat and the free fall when letting the rope go and jumping into the water. After lunch half of the crew continued jumping off the boat. The rest set off to go ashore to enjoy the beach of Pulau Pangkor one last time. Back at the boat we got ready to go. For the first time in weeks we really got to sail without running the engine so that everyone was looking forward to a pleasant passage to Pulau Paya, only a 115 miles away along the Malaysian coast to the north.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Please leave a message at the tone

Author: Chris Uyeda
Location: Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia
This trip has been incredibly distracting. As our regular blog readers can attest, we've done a lot. A brief recap - diving on the Great Barrier Reef, exploring aboriginal culture on Tiwi Island, surfing in Bali, walking with Orangutans in Borneo, riding the MRT in Singapore - in other words, more than a reasonable person would ask for out of a lifetime. So it comes as no surprise that one might get distracted from the routines of their normal life. For example, prior to Argo I spent a good part of my day in the ocean. But recently, while I've spent a lot of time on the water I haven't spent much time in the water. For the last month we've been sailing across the equator, tied up at 5-star marinas, or anchored up a river. All of these locales unprecedented but none afford the simple pleasure of jumping off the rail and going for a swim. I bring this up because today was the first day in a long time Argo has been anchored in a small island cove, surrounded by warm, clean, swimmable ocean water. So I went for a swim. And there is something very, very satisfying about swimming in the ocean. Why this is I don't precisely know but I like to think it has something to do with the following anecdote: Last year when I was stateside, I used to leave little "ocean fun facts" on my answering machine. If you called me and I wasn't home (which was probably the case) you might have got the following recording: "The next time you hear that the majority of our planet is salt water, consider the following - so is your body."

Monday, November 10, 2008

A beautiful sight

Author: Beau Silver
Location: Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia
Today was on passage in the Straits of Malacca. Then we reach Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia where I led a small BA. The boat was pretty clean except the engine room. We emerge from the depths of the engine room to see the huge rock formations and mountains this area had to give us truly a beautiful sight.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just another day

Author: Abbey Stern
Location: Underway to Malaysia
Today was yet another day of usual passage. There were no pirate attacks, ornery whales to fend off, or crooked officials to bribe. We once again were on our own. Which, in my opinion, is the best. It's not an easy passage though because there are so many boats around. Tankers and fishing boats all around! Some without the proper lights, some not lit at all. Even without pirates these waters are surely dangerous. Fear not, however. We're doing fine. By now we're all weathered and since crossing the equator, Poseidon keeps us safe. Just another day on Argo.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Selamat Jaman

Author: Simon Koch
Location: SIngapore
This being one of our final days of comfort alongside the One15 Marina, the students relished in freshwater showers and the freedom to explore the city. The morning was occupied with a combined oceanography and nautical science lecture in which the fundamentals of global circulation, weather patterns, an introduction to meteorology, and forecasting were covered. Then, following a bunk inspection the crew was set loose on the town. Sea|mester founder and principal, Jim Stoll, joined us for dinner. His visit will be short lived as he is here to deliver spare parts for some needed repairs, but we are all looking forward to having Jim back aboard for the Kings Cup Regatta in a few weeks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Singapore, more of it

Author: Molly Ashkenas
Location: Singapore
After a glorious and much needed sheet change, Argo's shipmates were again set loose to roam Singapore. Some stayed lounging by the pool, some got lost in Little India and some spent absurd amounts of money shopping. Court, Aaron, Garrett and I "faffed about" the Botanic Gardens. Feeling especially lazy, we napped on some grass, then sat for a while in the softest tree I've ever felt. Then we wandered the gardens taking in the beautiful and diverse scenery while eating mint chip ice cream that tasted suspiciously like toothpaste. Overall, another wonderful, hot, and sticky day in Singapore. Oh, also, I almost got trampled by a 4ft tall Asian lady on the subway who was determined to grab a seat. Whee!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Singapore

Author: Thomas Belk
Location: Singapore
Today we had a stressful OCE exam in the morning. Then we had the whole day off. Many people visited the neighborhood of Little India. Some people also went to the new James Bond movie. Then we had a second night out in honor of the election. Everybody is excited about our last two days in Singapore.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Candy Land

Author: Blake Cannino
Location: Singapore
Days in Singapore are the most relaxing so far on this trip. Lounging at the pool by day, four star showers and steam room by night. Everyone is getting antsy due to the upcoming election. Everyone you speak to in Singapore knows about the election including Asians, Canadians, and Australians. It's so easy to meet new people here. Just say hello and boom. The conversation usually starts with the election as the main topic. Going into the mall is like entering another world. Lights, technology and a lot of ethnic diversity. They seem to love Hardee's and Burger King as well. The food is amazing too and there's a lot of it. Chinatown is all made up of restaurants and little shops. Singapore is massive and it's going to be a great adventure exploring this place.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Playground for the Rich

Author: Samantha Englender
Location: Singapore
The crew awoke to an early arrival in Sentosa Island, Singapore. As if we weren't excited enough by the prospects of land and a new city, Simon broke the news to us that we would be docking at a ritzy, upscale marine. With flat screens in the bathroom, shower heads the size of dinner plates and complimentary perfumes/colognes, the facilities definitely did not disappoint. We spent our morning after docking giving some love back to Argo with an intense boat appreciation session. Argo gleaming, the staff set us loose on the city until dinner. Those of us who could tear ourselves away from the infinity pool and the lounge-style bathrooms took the free shuttle into Singapore proper to experience the largest mall, maybe ever. A literal compound of consumerism, 2 hours later shipmates emerged looking shell shocked and a little worse for wear. So much techno, so many colors, so much merchandise. Luckily there was a particularly special night out waiting in the wings to help with recuperation. Argo's entry to Singapore marked her completion of her first global circumnavigation, so this night out had been dubbed her "Around the World Party." And I'd like to think that every shipmate did their best to honor this occasion to the best of their ability.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Returning Home, the Northern Hemisphere

Author: Aaron Flaster
Location: Underway to Singapore
Last night was one of the most unique celebrations I have ever experienced. It must have been quite a sight to see all 26 of us up on deck at midnight in our "swimming costumes", with Simon standing on the cockpit dressed up as Neptune with a fake beard, sarong, and a metal pole. We all made a sacrifice to Neptune by throwing something meaningful overboard, which for me was the rest of my seasickness patches. This was only half of the induction ceremony to the Northern Hemisphere, and we didn't know what else we were doing until we saw Kate brandishing the firehose. We had to scramble under a tarp that was raised on the deck, and at the end of the tarp we got a lively spray from Kate. It was kind of an odd way to cross the equator, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. The rest of today was just a normal passage day that was unfortunately dominated by the motor, but we are less than a day away from Singapore!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Equator and values

Author: Brian Gamble
Location: Underway to Singapore
Today was another great day on Argo. There is absolutely no wind in the middle of the sea. As Chris would say the water is "butter." No on has had clean clothes for the past week. So some of us did laundry. Wearing dirty clothes really makes you evaluate your values. Back home I take for granted clean clothes and a warm, naked shower. I realize that it is the simplest things that I desire the most, like clean clothes or a coke. Right now I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but on Argo. At midnight tonight we are crossing the equator and plan to celebrate. I plan on being down in the bathroom seeing if the toilet water changes direction.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Author: Monica Catalano
Location: Underway to Singapore
Happy Halloween from the crew of Argo! We had another exciting day at sea again today, complete with Halloween candy and festivities. After our normal day of lunch and classes we all met on deck in our Halloween costumes for a friendly Costume Competition. When I'm at home for Halloween, finding a costume is hard enough, but throwing one together out here in the middle of the ocean is much more of a challenge. However, the crew stepped up to the challenge and came up with some of the most creative costumes I have ever seen. We held a costume competition, and it was definitely a challenge for the judges to come up with a winner. Some of the costumes included a blind man, Michael Jackson, a hobo, a bearded lady, Argo herself, and a traveling backpacker, to name a few. It was quite a sight to see, and I'm sure it would have baffled any passing boaters to see such a diverse crew. Michael Jackson (Nick) walked away with the prize for Best Costume. Melissa and Zander took home Most Creative for their interpretation of a Large Tug/Small Tow (complete with the proper lights). Court won Most Original for his impersonation of one of our fellow shipmates, James. Best Presentation went to Sam H. who dressed as a traveling backpacker (his attention to detail was unparalleled). The final category was one we like to call Ownership. This went to the person who was the most convincing in his or her costume, and stayed "in character" for the entire competition. This award went to Coulter for being a Redneck, complete with a freshly cut mullet. After the costume competition we started trick-or-treating Argo style by handing out candy among the watch teams. James did a great job of carving our Halloween Jack-o-lantern, which we lit to celebrate the rest of the evening. Not many people can say they spent Halloween out at sea, somewhere between Borneo and Singapore. It is certainly one I will never forget!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Preparation/Leaving Borneo

Author: Hannah Hartley-Shephard
Location: Underway to Singapore
It being 2 days past the middle of the trip, it has flown by so fast. The strong friendships that have formed between everyone are starting to be really apparent. It is amazing to me to be living with 26 other people in such small quarters and to be so close, after this trip these people will be the closes friends I have had in a long time and will have them for life. Every single person that boarded this boat in Cairns had to immediately put their life in the hands of every shipmate on board. The trust is so strong and I think it has to be because if no one trusted anyone we would get nowhere. Although we have as a group been through our rough spots, I feel as though we have gotten past them. Everyone is very excited to get to Singapore and to be leaving one place that is so different such as Borneo to be going to Singapore where they have everything you could possible need from a water park to and indoor ski area. Although, Borneo has been one of my favorite places so far. Seeing orangutans five feet in front of me was mind blowing! Tomorrow is Halloween and everyone is preparing their costumes, I am very excited to see what people come up with, with such small resources.

Oct 30 Argo Update

Brian brings us up to speed on the activities abaord Argo during their time in Indonesia. They have made stops in Bali and two locations in Borneo, where that spent the night off the vessel while visiting a research station and orangutan reserve up the river from Kumai. The crew is now underway north to Singapore and will post more updates soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cold night, hot tea

Author: Nick Herman
Location: Kumai, Borneo
As we nestled down in our mosquito net covered beds we all donned our usual sleeping attire, the bare minimum required clothing. As the night progressed, however, we began to awake. Not because someone was waking us up for watch or even because the anchor was dragging, but because for the first time over the 45 days we have spent on this trip, we were cold. We began to cope with the cold in our own way. Some put more clothes on, others had blankets. Those of us less prepared, however, went to greater extremes. We disassembled our beds and slept under the sheets that covered our mattresses. The less ingenious of us (i.e. me) simply curled up in a ball all night. Once we all awoke once and for all, it was a simple matter of taking down the mosquito nets and putting away the mattresses. We then sat there looking around, half enjoying the sights and sounds, half waiting for orders to do something. Luckily, our cooks had gotten up early and made us a fantabulous breakfast, oh yes, it was fantabulous. It consisted of scrambled eggs, banana fritters, toast, coffee, tea, and a delicious jam, oh and let's not forget the condensed milk. After the fantabulous breakfast we motored downriver to the second site. We got to the camp and hiked right to the feeding area. Here we had our first encounter with a dominate male, Doyo. He was a massive orangutan who displayed his dominance by hoarding all the bananas for himself. The females keep their distance and waited for him to get his fill before approaching. Once he left we all got a little apelike. Some of the group climbed up some smaller trees to imitate the orangutans, but it was a little too real when one of them started getting angry and thought we were encroaching on its territory. We quickly backed down and moved on. We moved to the third site and found that we had some time to kill. We watched the locals build a canoe and then played an intense game of soccer with our tour guides. The teams were a lopsided four on six yet the game was still competitive. We then moved to the feeding area where we had a quick encounter with another dominant male, whose name escapes me. After some quick pictures we retreated to the boats. On the way back we armed ourselves with some souvenirs. Once aboard we had a delicious lunch and continued on to a small village. Once at the village we all dispersed. Two of us, Aaron and Chris, ended up at a woman's house who was making palm frond roofs. They both helped out and got some nice rice cooker bags. We then effectively bought all the food from their little house stores. Once back at the boat we had one last tea time and headed to Argo. Once back we had our first dinner down below, due to the severe rain storm unleashing its fury on us. We all needed a little fresh water rinse, including Argo. All of this fun came on the half way point as well. Today was day 45 on our 90 day voyage. It seems like only yesterday that we were all standing wide eyed on the dock at Cairns, and now we are playing with orangutans in Borneo. It doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day One of Orangutan Adventure

Author: Sam Higgins
Location: Kumai, Borneo
Waking up on Argo, the usual morning yawn, coffee drinkers trying to get their fix. None of that happened today. Everyone was so excited to board our boats people came up from the companionway ready for an adventure. And so we were off. A three to four hour boat ride up the Kumai River would bring us to Orangutan country. The boat ride was amazing. Everything was complimentary. For example, an afternoon tea, or more food cooked for us that we could imagine. Some people even helped gopher (slang term used on Argo for cleaning) the plates for our tour guides. The first stop that we had to see the Orangutans was camp known as Camp Leakey. This camp was made so that orangutans hurt or born in captivity could be let out into the wild but also cared for by Dr.Birute Mary Galdikas. She lived with the orangutans for most of her life studying and keeping care of them. Anyways on to the fun stuff. We actually saw the orangutans, it was afternoon feeding and these guys were hungry. One almost tried to bite Xander he was so hungry; or she was accepting him as a male. It was a great experience, and the funny part is these ones were only the beginning. Once we were finished with this fascinating creature of or past, we went back down the river to anchor up. That's when Argo bonding started to come out. A taboo game got going, which was by far the funniest game I have played in a while, and then we pigged out again during dinner; the only commotion being the voices of people asking other people for something. Pass me the rice, or pass the chicken thingy. Now being the skipper of the day I decided to have some fun with people, so once the bug nets were up I decided to prank the second boat and tell them that the tour guides said there was some mischief going on at night, and that the staff and I agreed that we should have watches. Everyone was confused, but that confused way that they believed me but were trying to figure out why. Anyways I had to give into Melissa's face, which looked as though she might rip me to shreds. All was well and another successful day on our adventure had been wrapped up. Now all was left was the sounds of the jungle, and the snores of us.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring!

Author: Kate Sundquist
Location: Underway to Kumai
Most of us awoke this morning at barely civilized hours for night watches and were greeted by an altogether unfamiliar sound aboard our vessel. While we have become accustomed to the low growl of the engine on windless days, to the clang and clatter of harnesses being pulled across the jacklines in the dead of night, and to even the joyful whistle of the wind as it dances through our rigging, one noise that's been decidedly absent is the pitter patter of raindrops as they fall upon our deck and hatches. In this part of the world, where the temperatures vary only slightly between seasons, the year is divided in two. In Australia, we learned that they call May to October "the dry" and November to April "the wet". So here we are, on the cusp of "the wet" and already the decks are freshly rinsed. The crew has been excited at the change; for with little wind, the scorching of the sun becomes somewhat monotonous as we motor along the south coast of Borneo. But today was welcomed with a steady downfall, slowing to a drizzle by morning and the day remained overcast for the most part. We enjoyed chicken noodle soup for lunch, then had a pair of classes before ringing in the new season with a bit of southern hemisphere spring cleaning down below. The watches will continue through the night; tomorrow we will greet the dawn with an arrival to the Kumai river.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Floating Fruti

Author: Garrett Jacobs
Location: Banjarmasin
Ha ha Sun, we beat you again, 4:45am and our feet meet on dew drop decks as we attempt a second try for the Venice of Asia. Bags packed and raingear ready for another floating tack down the Sumai Banto. By the time the sun struck our faces we were already 15 minutes down river surrounded by rusty tin can homes, speeding lawnmower banana boats and bathing families. It's good to be on the move after a day of class. Some tired faces fall as the excitement of others drops jaws. I drop my camera, these scenes are too special to capture, besides every blink could be a candid cover for National Geographic. An hour into the journey we pass Banjarmasin and continue to see the edge of the industrial giant, but we stick to the river and its very modest shore dwellers. Here daily life means learning to walk on a slant and fin new ways of patching leaks. Rooflines matching waves lead our eyes down river. One hour and a half, two hours and a half, then finally we slow, as the towns shrink and become more rural. We spot small canoes bobbing colored heads. Our boat dwarfs the single merchant ships and our white skin commands attention. At first we linger and no one approaches. Confused and feeling like intruders at a back ally block party. The market is smaller and more intimate then I imagined, about 40 women in boats selling oranges, pineapples, prickly pears, coconut, banana, mangoes, papayas, ram butam, syrup saturated rice cakes and much more alien to our eyes. Finally, we are approached, than swarmed asa the merchants realize how much we are willing to give away. Really a win win situation of charades. 50,000 rupiah for 50 oranges - even Safeway couldn't beat the equivalent 5 box. The market is huge when we are surrounded. A boat of fruit and shuggery bellies later it's time to turn back. But here it's not about fancy jewelry, cell phones, expensive cars or manicured front lawns, human interaction is business, is pleasures, is life. Sure they may lack running water but they gain a family who bathes together and neighbors who share a wall. A disturbed run in with a floating advertisement crew and we are back down the river. By now it's only 3 hours passed the orange sun and we are worlds away. Then the sugar high peaks our excited prattle muffles even the loud guttural engine. But the crash followed shortly with the flat bottom boat coating with exhausted bodies. A few remain in the back munching away on Borneo's mysteries. Back to Argo through the black mound barges and hurrying to move as another passage begins. Farewell Banjarmasin, we're off for the orangutan nation. We navigate the difficult and narrow river channel back out to sea. An excited 200 miles and the start of another nascent experience tucks us in while it rains on the way to Kumai.