Monday, April 27, 2009

There and Back Again

Author: Leah Shopneck
Location: Samut Prakan, Thailand
It is amazing to think Argo has circumnavigated the globe, and she currently sits just a few hundred feet from where she was built three years ago. Each rust streak on the deck represents thousands of salty nautical miles and the crews that have sailed this beloved schooner. Argo has seen places all over the globe and so has a captain that after years of sailing with Sea|mester is finally sailing farewell. Boomer spent seven months of his life, three years ago, assisting in the building of Argo. Over the past few years he has captained the circumnavigation except for two legs of the journey. He has spent many hours in the engine room, enjoying the rev of the engine and the self-sufficiency of mending the problems that arise. He has guided not only Argo but also Ocean Star into hundreds of ports and anchorages flawlessly, and now he passes over the helm as Argo once again sits on the hard before beginning another circumnavigation.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting Down and Dirty in a Thai Shipyard

Author: Leah Shopneck
Location: Samut Prakan, Thailand
Each drop of sweat means the better Argo looks. The hot and humid April days of Thailand, brings moisture instantly to one's face. These past two days Rory and I have been in the anchor locker, detailing pumps, grinding rust and priming the bare steel. Each morning we crawl into the locker, with a big can of WD40 in one hand and a wire brush in the other. For hours we sit in the depths of the bow, curled up close and personal with the anchor chain, removing ever speck of rust. In the late afternoon we emerge drenched in sweat and covered in dust and dirt. Rory and I are not the only two that receive stares from onlookers during our daily train ride commute back home after work. Every one of the Argo crew shares in the shipyard fashion statement, as they are grinding in the bilges, giving the heads a well deserved clean or hunting down the rust in the engine room. Despite the fact that these clothes should never be worn again in public, they are souvenirs of our dedication to Argo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rise and Shine

Author: Leah Shopneck
Location: Samut Prakan
The day began based on the Bangkok River high tide. At 0230 this morning the eight person crew of Argo woke to Thai shipyard men boarding the boat ready to motor down river to haul Argo out of the water. Although we are not taking her to the same shipyard that originally built her, we are just down the way and many familiar faces walk the streets. As we crossed the shipping lane and approached the dry dock the Thai men on board began expertly passing lines. Carefully we were pulled onto the submersed dry dock. Lines were running every direction: a bridle led to the boat off our bowsprit, several lines came down from forward and aft spreaders, a thick line was bowlined onto our main mast, plus all the lines running from our bow and stern. As soon as we were secured two men gracefully entered the dark water, one with full scuba gear on, the other with a mask that attached to a long tube running up to a compressor on the dock. Their jobs were to help guide the chalking of the boat. At the surface they were given wood boxes, in which they dove down to stabilize the boat as the dry dock was raised and the water drained. By 0600 Argo was completely out of the water and our own personal staircase was being brought in by a crane.
Once Argo sat comfortably on the dry dock, we began moving our stuff off the boat, as we would be living in a Bangkok apartment. Since the dry dock sits in the river and is only connected to land by a maze of ladders and floating platforms, the crane and a very large basket were used to remove our luggage from the boat. As noon approached Argo looked ready to be rehauled and the crew was unpacking in their new home looking forward to the next days commute.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Making Argo Schwoll and Peacing Out

Author: Danny Simon
Location: Pattaya, Thailand
Today the inevitable camethe last day is upon us. We cleaned Argo like she has never been cleaned before for a good 7 hours. The hard work has kept us from thinking to much about our departure from Argo, each other, and the eastern world. Overall it is a good day and tonight will be a fun, memorable goodbye to everyone for tonight will be the last time the 28 people will be together in the same place at the same time. It is an honor to be skipper on the last day and I want to tell future readers, for all of us on Argo that this has been an amazing experience and I would not trade it for anything. Thank you to all the people that are apart of Sea|mester and goodbye to all!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Colorful Culture

Author: Megan Smith
Location: Pattaya, Thailand
Today was our final full day aboard Argo. We started off the day by moving to a new anchorage so that we were closer to shore. After anchoring we finished some small chores and headed into shore. This section of Thailand is very unique and it is made even more unique, because this is where we will be celebrating the Thai New Year's water celebration. Today was the first day and water guns are being sold on every street corner. After a short stay on shore we came back to Argo to shower and get some last minute work done. The Thai sun is extremely hot so tonight we will find comfort in the salon for our closing ceremony. All in all it was another amazing day aboard Argo.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine"

Author: Kevin Johnsen
Location: Pattaya, Thailand
As the crew of Argo, Spring 09 have come to learn, I often will have a song in my head for the day, which I will sing out loud through out the day. Unfortunately for the crew I'm no singer. But none the less I will sing and quite often others will join in and we all will sing poorly. Today's song is by R.E.M., "The end of the world," and the only part I know is the main chorus, "it's the end of the world as we know it, it's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fineee!" That's the theme for today because as far as life on Argo, for this crew is concerned, we are rapidly approaching the end of OUR world. Our world has been this boat, these 28 people, our ports of call, passages sailed, storms braved, laughs shared, the good, the bad and everything in between. It is an unavoidable truth that this exact trip will never happen again. These 28 people will never live aboard this ship and travel this route together again. This could be seen as sad in fact I know many of the crew members are sad to be seeing the light at the end of this tunnel. But as in the song, I feel fine. I feel fine because I can take solace in knowing that this trip, this voyage, is unique. I have just shared three months of my life with these 27 other people. There is nothing more valuable than the time we spend with each other. I value the time I have spent with this crew and nothing can take that experience away from me. We come together as 28 individuals and we leave as 1 crew.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Full Moon

Author: Jamie Spencer
Location: Underway
After a few days of on and off monsoon rains, the clouds gave way to the full moon that was above us last night. Techno rave music was blasting from the beach all night for Ko Tao's "full moon" party. I can only imagine all those tourists raving into the wee hours of the night.
Our day started with an OCB class, the last OCB class, and we were treated to one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld, "is anyone a marine biologist." The rest of the day was filled with diving and shore time. We then prepared the boat for departure, and took off shortly before dinner. We are now on our way to Pattaya.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ko Tao

Author: Hillary Strasser
Location: Ko Tao, Thailand
Today we were allowed to spend the day either scuba diving or exploring the small island. Last night there was a moon festival and when I went up on deck for anchor watch at 5 am I could still hear music blasting from shore and saw large fires die out as the sun rose. Most of us went scuba diving and enjoyed the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Thailand. A few of us stayed on board Argo enjoying the quiet on board. I spent the morning trying to polish the top starboard spreader. Casey threw over board some dive weights so those of us not scuba diving could practice our free diving skills. After everyone came back from shore in the afternoon we swung into the water from a makeshift boom swing, laughing and splashing until dinner. Tonight we had our Marine Biology exam and are almost officially done with class work.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Arrival in Ko Tao

Author: James Bowman
Location: Ko Tao, Thailand
Bit of an unusual start to the day as we began with watch teams at 3 am in order to get us into Ko Tao by first light. A mini BA ensued and soon enough the dinghies were launched to ferry people to diving and shore. Ko Tao is home to some of the best diving in Thailand and we are pumping tanks continuously in order to take advantage of these opportunities when we still can.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

One Week Left

Author: Casey Jones
Location: Ko Samui, Thailand
Today was a bittersweet day. It was day 83, which means that we now have only one week left, today was the third full rotation of the job wheel, it also happened to be the final for the oceanography class. It makes you realize that our time here on Argo is coming to an end, yet you also realize how much we have done, how much we have learned, and how far we have come. Today's Oceanography was a take home final, where the shipmates had to create their own marine organism, and explain how it lives in the marine environment. While listening to their presentations it was awesome to hear what they had come up. More then that though, it was awesome to hear how their awareness and understanding of the marine world had changed and grown since they first stepped aboard Argo, nearly three months ago. Not only is this evident in their knowledge of the sea, but I believe that they have grown personally and will take what they have learned out here, and apply it to their land lives. Like I said, bittersweet, knowing that our time is almost at an end, yet knowing people will take away so much from this trip. It has been my pleasure and honor to be a teacher, and staff member during this trip
-cool, peace, bye
Casey Jones

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another Day in Ko Samui

Author: Hal Cosec
Location: Ko Samui, Thailand
This morning we moved to another part of the island. After taking our Navigation final we went to shore and explored the new side of the island. It is nice to be back in Thailand. These people are very kind and beautiful. We had a night out tonight and most of us hung out at what seemed like a street market. It began to rain so we sat under umbrellas. It's always nice to feel cool rain in a tropical climate.

Ko Samui

Author: Margot Denman
Location: Ko Samui
It was another day aboard beautiful Argo. The sun rose and we feasted on pancakes before going ashore to Ko Samui to explore. It was a wet landing getting to the beach from the dinghy so we all looked like navy seals. The island is pretty with a long stretch of beach and the usual small street food carts boasting freshly cut fruit, roasted skewers of meat and sweets wrapped in banana leaves, all of which the crew sampled amply. The squeeze question was what is a smell that brings up a memory.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thailand, Why Did We Ever Leave You?

Author: John Dillon
Location: Ko Samui, Thailand
First of all, I love being back in Thailand. Thailand is the place we all met and shyly got to know each other. Now we know each other to the point of doing imitations of each other at "the squeeze." We can fully embrace Thailand for all of its greatness: cheap food, Thai boxing shorts, and extremely friendly locals. After we anchored in Ko Samui (a small island) we did a full cleaning of Argo. After lunch we went to shore, by motorboat, and had a very wet landing. I didn't do too much today on shore. Tomorrow we set sail for a different part of the island. It's finals week here on Argo. Hopefully if we get all of our work done we can go to a Mai Thai Boxing fight tomorrow night and relax.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's Been a Good Day

Author: Chris Ergen
Location: Underway
Today was spent as our last day on passage before arriving in Ko Samui, Thailand. We had an MTE review and OCB class after lunch, then resumed watch teams at three as usual. We have had much traffic out here as we pass endless amounts of fish traps and fishing boats. Tomorrow we will be back in Thailand and we are all excited about that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Leaving the Land of Ice Cream and Milkshakes

Author: Lizzy Freund
Location: Underway
This morning we left Terraganu, Malaysia, which some were sad to leave. We basically had the whole marina to ourselves and we cleaned out the restaurant of bananas and vanilla ice cream; as a crew we consumed over 42 milkshakes/ice cream dishes not including other desserts. One of the shipmates drank 10 milkshakes (don't worry mom and dad it wasn't me). It's hard to say why here of all the places we went wild on the desert menu maybe it was because the exchange rate seemed so much better than it did in Singapore, although I doubt any of us have the real answer to that question. We certainly didn't need to eat ice cream or drink shakes but it was available and we let the temptation get the best of us (well all of us except some of the staff and one of the students who has renounced all sweets for the remainder of the trip). Despite the massive amount of desserts that were left over in our systems this morning we got Argo ready to go in record time. We left the docks without a hitch and were soon back out on the water in the Gulf of Thailand. In the Gulf of Thailand there is quite a bit of fishing boat traffic and these bundles of palm trees that stick out of the water which are apparently some sort of fishing device. Needless to say it keeps watch interesting. We had some great quesadillas for lunch then had an awesome Oceanography class in which we had to create our own marine organisms and describe their environment, focusing on how they would cope with changes in temperature and salinity. After that PSCT students had their meteorology exam and after classes we officially went back on watch team schedules. We had a nice stir fry for dinner and then went about our normal passage routines of studying, reading, being on watch, or for some sleeping, before it was time for them to take over on watch. Overall it was yet another great day aboard Argo.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Places We See

Author: Leah Shopneck
Location: Terraganu, Malaysia
The crew of Argo has seen a variety of places over the past few months, and Terraganu fits perfectly amongst our list of unique destinations. Today we were granted an opportunity to visit a local boat yard, where a few highly skilled men are able to build beautiful Malay Junks with only a sketch pad and their hands. In just a few years time one of these stunning boats is able to sail off into the sunset. Some people even purchased small handmade replicas of these boats as souvenirs of this great boat building region. The rest of the day was spent either on shore enjoying our remaining hours in Malaysia or working on assignments that are due in the next few days. Tomorrow morning we say farewell to Terraganu and Malaysia, as we continue our trek north to our final country, Thailand, and our second to last stop, Ko Samui.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Do you Fool a Fool?

Author: Travis Grange
Location: Terraganu, Malaysia
Today was a busy day ashore. We started off April Fool's with a joke on the shipmates by having oatmeal and salsa for breakfast, everyone had a laugh. Then it was off to shore to explore Terraganu. Some of the shipmates opted to stay and work on the upcoming finals. Around 1 the engine got some work done on it with some help form the shipmates. We got to take a close look at a traditional Malay Junk whish was built by hand. We finished off the day with a nice sauna session and nachos for dinner. Tonight we will have a biology class then some rest.