Saturday, January 31, 2009

Leaving Langkawi

Author: Joey Moran
Location: P. Dayang Bunting, Malaysia
We left Langkawi in the morning and motored to a more secluded group of islands nearby. It is beautiful here. Most of the day was spent aboard studying or reading. Sometimes there was writing. Sometimes we went swimming. We are having an early dinner tonight so we can bathe in a nearby freshwater lake at sunset. Reportedly there are monkeys and a giant white crocodile. Later this evening we will learn to be leaders.

Friday, January 30, 2009

My Malaysia

Author: Chris Uyeda
Location: Langkawi, Malaysia
Here's the thing about Malaysia. I love it. Here's the reason why. Malaysia is subtle enough to escape stereotype but unique enough to be unparalleled. The end result is that when I'm in Malaysia I feel like I'm seeing something new for the very first time. And that, my friend, is not always easy to achieve. Consider the following: many of us have never been to Greece, but most of us have a vision of beautiful white houses with blue roofs stacked on cliff sides overlooking the Mediterranean. Likewise, you may not have been to Peru but you've probably seen a picture of Machu Picchu. And I am absolutely certain that if I say "Australia" someone is going to think of either a koala or kangaroo. But if I say "Malaysia" what is the first thing that comes to mind? Probably not much. Because while other locales have come to be defined by a single image (eg. Caribbean islands = white sand beaches, Thailand = Pad Thai, New York = Times Square, Antarctica = ice) Malaysia has escaped pre-definition. Consequently my experiences here are fresh, without expectations and without prejudice. When I walk through the ferry terminal (as I did yesterday) there are no stereotypes limiting my observations. And that is a very good thing. Because the problem with stereotyping a destination (as is the problem with any stereotype) is that more often than not it prevents us from seeing beyond the surface, and the more I stay on Argo the more I realize that anything worth seeing is probably going to be at depth.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Presents for Argo

Author: Matias Moreno-Bunge
Location: Langkawi, Malaysia
Today a handful of us woke up to Argo arriving at Malaysia's port in Langkawi. Thanks to a flawless set of night watches we ended up at anchor before we had expected to. The newest activity put forth to us today was to begin the tradition of Boat Appreciation, an extremely thorough cleaning of Argo to thank her for taking us through to new destinations. Everyone worked diligently and swiftly allowing us to finish in time for lunch, followed by some time ashore to explore Langkawi, a bustling small city filled with a mixture of food and tourist shops. In the distance the new cultural experiences of Malaysia could be seen tempting me and others to explore in the future.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On the Way to Malaysia

Author: Alessandro Pagliai
Location: Underway
Today I woke up to a task of duties. I was fortunate enough to have been skipper on a day that we were setting out for passage, fortunate not because of a lack of responsibility, quite the contrary in fact. I ran through the checklist of different duties that had to be done before departure, and received quite a good understanding, not only of the skipper, but the duties Argo requires for her to be sailed. I didn't know quite what to expect (1st time as skipper). Everyone was very cooperative and only gave me assistance, which I'm very appreciative for.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Last Day in Thailand

Author: Jessica Peters
Location: Ao Chalong, Thailand
We arrived in Ao Chalong early this morning after a fun night of watch team rotations. Our mission for the day was to fully reprovision the boat for the next 17 days and to find a place to put everything away. I have never seen so much food in my life and was shocked at how much food it takes to feed 28 people for 17 days! The majority of the day we spent on shore exploring Thailand for the last time, before we head to Malaysia. Some ventured out of town to go see the Big Buddha and others spent their time checking out stores and buying more Thai fisherman pants that have become quite popular aboard Argo. After stuffing all the secret cubbies with food we enjoyed a wonderful meal and are currently finishing clean up and getting ready for our Basic Seamanship class.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Goodbye Similan Islands

Author: Tom Rice
Location: Similan Islands, Thailand
Everyday of this trip has brought new challenges. Yesterday was my first dive as a certified diver which in my mind pushed me way out of my comfort zone to begin with. One of the skills you need to accomplish is being able to take off your mask and replace it and drain it in 50ft of water. The first time I tried it I almost freaked out, but by the end of my training I was fully confident.
On another note the Similan Islands have been absolutely incredible. While anchored at Similan #8 a sea turtle was kind enough to grace us with his presence to snack on the food we threw overboard. Today on passage we also saw the annular solar eclipse. After today's hard work, involving raising sail, it is safe to say the crew of Argo is quite tan, now that I think of it as I reside into my portside six man I have to think about my family and friends back home in New Hampshire who are probably fighting the good fight with old man winter and I hope all is well with them.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Exploring Similan Island #8

Author: Olivia Chapman
Location: Similan Islands, Thailand
The French toast and fruit we had for breakfast was a great way to start a Sunday off. The morning consisted of the OCE students going through and testing out the instruments that will be used for the labs. Others who were not taking OCE had dinghy training. This afternoon was filled with the now "open water divers" going on a drift dive to start working towards their advanced open water certification, while some opted to explore the island. The hiking adventure, comprised of trekking between boulders, climbing up wooden planks and gripping ropes to ensure your safety, lead to one of the most breathtaking views. After taking in the view we all made back to the boat for dinner this evening. We will have our first PSCT course, just in time for our sail training tomorrow.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Scuba Test

Author: Nick Rogan
Location: Similan Islands, Thailand
It's been a busy day - all of the uncertified scuba divers completed their last open water dives and are taking the written exam tonight. Hopefully, everyone on board will be certified by the end of the day. Most of the shipmates have been using their free time either writing a paper for Marine Biology or identifying and logging marine animals for an ongoing homework project. So far we've seen sea snakes, barracudas, sea turtles and a huge variety of fish. Chris Ergen showed everyone his collection of crystals and assured us that they would create a "good vibe" for the rest of the trip. We only have two days left in the Similans before heading back to Phuket in order to leave Thailand.

Jan 24 Argo Update

Captian Brendon "Boomer" Baumeister and shipmate skipper of the day Nick call in to post the first Podcast for the Spring Global Sea|mester. Boomer and Nick bring us up to speed on life abaord and promise some blog entries once the vessel is back near the mainland on Tuesday.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Depths

Author: Danny Simon
Location: Similan Islands, Thailand
On this beautiful Friday the uncertified divers completed their first Open Water dive. Everything went wonderful and they reached new depths. The certified divers spent time training how to operate the dinghies and then did a fun dive. After all of the activities, the chefs made a delectable meal consisting of lasagna and salad, followed by many thanks and compliments for their hard work.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

First Breaths Underwater

Author: Megan Smith
Location: Similan Islands, Thailand
Today was a very eventful day for the uncertified divers they spent their morning and afternoon doing skills in the shallow water. The already certified divers had free time to explore our first Similan Island. After they were finished exploring they had a chance to go on their own. Overall today was a relaxing day for the divers and a very rewarding day for the uncertified divers. Tomorrow they take their test so hopefully they all pass.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Good to be Back on the Seas Again

Author: Kevin 2nd Mate
Location: Similan Islands
Argo and I were at dock for about a month during the holidays and that is a month too long. Rest is good but we both were itching to get back on the open ocean. The feel of the wind on our faces and the sway of the ocean beneath our feet, that's what Argo and I long for. That day finally came and with our new crew we casted off our dock lines and said good-bye to land. A sense of peace and belonging came over us as we made our way through the water, we were home. I started my day off with another forgotten joy, a night passage. You can not truly understand how wonderful a night passage is unless you have experienced it. Just the sound of having to be awake, driving a boat in the dark, through unfamiliar waters, at odd hours of the night sounds ludicrous to most people. But to those who have lived aboard a boat and sailed her across oceans there are few moments when you are more at peace with your surroundings. This new crew and my new watch are starting to learn that joy. For our few sacrificed hours of sleep we were rewarded by arriving at the Similan Islands just after first light. One could not ask for a more picturesque location to do your first scuba dive. That's what we prepared ourselves for today and plan to do for the next few days. Scuba dive in some of the clearest waters the ocean has to offer. Ah, it's good to be back on the seas again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Beach and the Passage

Author: Jamie Spencer
Location: Underway
Our day began bright and early with a great breakfast. We then motored to the shore of Phi Phi Don, and boarded longtail boats, which took us on an amazing tour of the island and the surrounding islands. The islands rise up like huge odd shaped monoliths, which allow for some awesome hidden and secluded beaches. We explored the beaches and snorkeled in the water. After lunch we went ashore for free time. Once back we readied the boat for our first passage, took showers and got dinner prepared. We are now undertaking the beginning of our first passage to the Similan Islands. The only thing between us and the Similans is the sea.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Getting Away from Land

Author: Hillary Strasser
Location: Phi Phi Don, Thailand
Before motoring away from Phuket we took on an incredible amount of diesel at the Phuket marina. As we took on the fuel most of us polished and brassoed as many surfaces as we could find. For several hours we motored 28 nautical miles to Phi Phi Don under an intense sun with little wind. The sea around us around us was beautiful and calm. We anchored near Monkey Beach in the shade of giant cliffs and took our first salt water baths. Tonight we will have a passage meeting and will begin our anchor watches.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting Things Shipshape

Author: James Bowman
Location: Phuket, Thailand
Our first morning aboard was a busy one, as we were introduced to everything and all things Argo. The job wheel, ship policies, and proper flushing and chamoising techniques were all explained to us, among many other things. Lunch was local Thai cuisine followed by a muddy tour of the nearby saltwater mangroves. Our knowledgeable resident science experts, Chris and Casey (aka the man team) provided us with interesting information as we plunged deep into the murky waters and discussed the unusual marine landscape before us. Upon our return we were given free time that will sure to be increasingly spare in the days, weeks, and months to come, as we cross the thousands of miles that lay before us.
On a side note, yesterday we toured Bangkok with Jim and Chris by trains, boat and taxi. Very, very cool and we wish we could have stayed longer.