Friday, July 31, 2009

Getting Off the Beaten Track

Author: Leaah
Location: Koh Samui, Thailand
Sea|mester is all about getting off the beaten track, enjoying a semester or summer abroad in an unique kind of way. Day 21 started with early dinghy runs ashore in order to meet up with our taxi driver, Sutti, who would be shuttling us between the different onshore points of interests. From 9:30 to 14:00, the crew of Argo explored the island's famous tourist and not so touristy spots. We saw temples with Buddhas three stories high, outlooks where Argo could be seen anchored off in the distance, huge boulders and rock formations peacefully sitting at the edge of the sea, and stunning waterfalls making a perfect midday fresh water dip. As stunning and interesting as they places are, they always seem to be on local tour guides' lists, highlighting the one other spot in our minds.
With absolutely no other tourists around, we arrived at a local temple well off the beaten track. The previous time a crew of Argo visited this temple hundreds of kids were running around enjoying the wide open courtyard at the center of the complex. This time though all was quiet, except for the lone dog and monk that hid amongst the shade of the buildings. We wandered around looking at the architecture of the buildings. Before climbing back into the taxi we made a small donation, in which the monk thanked us with delicious fruit and good luck bracelets. After the taxi dropped us off for a final time at Chaweng Beach, our tour was not yet over. Some further explored the local beach, while a few others got to see a different side of life aboard Argo and another cultural side of Thailand. With the help of Gary and Chelsey, we provisioned the boat for the next nine days. Wandering up and down the isles of the local grocery stories, we bought the stores out of bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and much more. Four overly stuffed grocery carts later, we made our way back to the dinghy with the help of a very nice local taxi driver and a truck. From the beached dinghy up to Argo's deck down through the gopher hatch and finally into the fridge and fruit hammocks, Argo is once again ready to make her way south, this time as we head into Malaysia.

July 31 Argo Update

Renie calls in with the update on Argo's activities as they are now in Koh Samui and are nearing departure to Malaysia.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Koh Samui

Author: Rennie
Location: Koh Samui, Thailand
We were all sad to say goodbye to the fun-filled island of Koh Phangan. After breakfast we had an Oceanography class and got ready for the day. We arrived at Koh Samui around noon today and were immediately immersed in jet skis and beautiful weather. After figuring out our situation with customs, we found out that we could go ashore. Looking for presents for people at home and celebrating Chelsea's birthday, the boys ate ice cream and roamed while the girls enjoyed shopping and Thai massages.
We came back to the boat around 4:30 and enjoyed shower time, then dinner and birthday cake. We ended the day with a Navigation lesson in our MTE class!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Haad Rin

Author: Tommy
Location: Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, Thailand
The beach at Haad Rin is the home of the world famous "Full Moon Party." Although we were here for a different phase of the moon, we had a fun night out watching fire dancers and hearing the loud techno beats that cater to foreign party-goers. Interestingly, it is this party that largely drives the island economy. Our night was considerably tamer than what gets advertised.
In the morning, we woke up early for breakfast, followed by an Oceanography class. Afterwards, the divers went out on navigation dive to complete their Advanced Diver certifications. The water was a little murky, but provided suitable conditions for relying on compass headings underwater.
Once all the dive gear was rinsed and sorted down, we dropped everyone off in Haad Rin to get some lunch. With nothing planned for the afternoon, everyone had a chance to explore Haad Rin during the hours which flaming objects aren't being thrown about and techno isn't getting driven into your ears.
Everyone was back onboard Argo for dinner. As we were finishing up eating we watched a powerful weather system pass about five miles to our South. On the edge of the front, we watched two water spouts (ocean-going tornados) touch down and suck sea water up into its vortex! Fortunately the wind and weather remained calm at our anchorage.
After, we started our Navigation course and then went off to bed with the sound of techno blaring all night, clearly audible from our bunks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Day Ashore

Author: Chelsey
Location: Haad Rin, Thailand
Today started with a breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit. We then cleaned up the boat and prepared for a day ashore. We attempted to hike to a waterfall, but after the long, hot hike we realized the waterfall was all dried out. We then had shore time where many of us tested the Thai culture. Most of us shopped, laid out on the beautiful white sand beaches, had lunch and some of us got Thai massages. The weather was beautiful. We then had dinghy rides back to the boat and motored about 5 nm to the south side of the island, Haad Rin. We had showers on the boat today instead of jumping into the ocean as normal, and then ate dinner. After dinner we cleaned up and prepared to experience the night culture of Haad Rin.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Epic Sailing

Author: Dan
Location: Koh Phagnan, Thailand
After breakfast we began a day of epic sailing. Rising to the challenge of raising the sails and departing the anchorage without the engine, the crew of Argo executed their maneuvers with swift and adept sail handling. After piling on full sail for the 20 mile reach to Koh Phagnan, we practiced tacking, jibing and performed a man overboard drill; giving each crew member a chance to see the boat under sail and snap a few pictures from the dinghy. Upon arrival into picturesque Pan Noi Bay, we sailed onto anchor, put the boat away, showered in the sea, dined on quiche and as I write this the crew is preparing for an Oceanography quiz and class. Everyone is tired and well spent after a day of putting the boat through the paces, but tonight we'll enjoy the entertainment of the Thai fishermen anchored nearby as they sing songs and repair their nets and traps for the workday tomorrow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Between Two Islands

Author: Mike
Location: Koh Tao, Thailand
Today started a little later than usual as we motored to the other side of the island. After breakfast we had an Oceanography class about light and sound in the ocean. Later, we did a dive to get research for our group projects. In the afternoon we had free time to go to shore, but everyone decided to stay on the boat, which may have been a good decision as pouring rain passed through. During the sudden rain and wind we had to take down the tarps that give us shade, which can be harder than normal when the wind catches them like sails. To close the day we have our Basic Seamanship midterm after dinner.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dive Day

Author: Chelsea
Location: Koh Tao, Thailand
Today was an early start on the day due to laundry that needed to be washed. We had cereal and yogurt for breakfast after that we did our first deep dive to 60 feet. After that we had sandwiches for lunch then an OCE class. After that we did a boat dive and saw a huge sea cucumber. We then had our swim test and then worked on homework. Dinner was chicken cordon bleu and potatoes. After dinner we have a review for the MTE midterm tomorrow and then off to bed after that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Arrived in Koh Tao

Author: Gary
Location: Koh Tao, Thailand
Today we concluded our 200 nm passage to Koh Tao. After attempting to settle into one anchorage, we decided on another on the other side of the island. After a successful B.A. and a tasty lunch, we set out on our naturalist dive which was the best we've seen in Thailand. A few shipmates explored the shore during the following free time, while the others stayed aboard and worked on their Knowledge Reviews. Dinner was great and very filling. An awesome way to transition into our night dive tonight.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rain

Author: Jess
Location: Underway to Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand
We are currently underway for Koh Tao, and it hasn't stopped raining since we left yesterday morning. The rain has been intense, many of us said we don't remember seeing so much rain ever before. The clouds have been grey and torrential downpours flood the decks. Watches have been fun, we've had the company of 3 small birds lost at sea, and enjoyed a few rounds of guess the time of the next rain shower. After watch we come below, change and dry off. We've been eating our meals down below in shifts which has been nice. We've been sailing "in the groove" as we tack our way motor sailing upwind. Everyone has developed their helming skills and our courses are perfect straight lines. We've had some wind and waves too, making the passage challenging and a bit bumpy and rolly. After lunch we had an oceanography class on seawater properties, followed by a Blue Planet DVD on Coral Seas, in anticipation of our diving in Koh Tao. As the night settled squid boats became visible on the horizon, and the skies cleared, is this the end of the rain?

July 22 Argo Update

Jess calls in the podcast update as the crew continues to Koh Tao across the Gulf of Thailand.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Underway to Koh Tao

Author: Erin
Location: Underway to Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand
We are currently underway, making the 200 mile passage from Koh Mak to Koh Tao. After all the excitement from being ashore these past few days, it was a nice change to hoist sails and be on the open seas again! After breakfast we pulled up the anchor, hoisted the sails and set on our way. Unfortunately the weather and wind was not on our side. Decked out in our foul weather gear Watch Team 3 (consisting of Ed, Leah, Sam and myself) took Argo out into the Gulf and the swells. As the watch teams rotated everyone was hoping that the rain would stop and they could remain dry. A few of the watch teams were greeted by a little black bird that flew down onto Argo. It's pretty impressive that the bird made it out here, considering we are 25 miles from shore. The bird, which was eventually named 'Dog' was quite friendly and ended up perched on Mike's finger. Once Dog had dried off from the rain, it took off again.
Even though today provided to be wet, rainy, and rolly, the crew of Argo is in good spirits and we are all looking forward to our arrival in Thailand.

July 21 Argo Update

The day 11 updates comes as the crew is on passage to Koh Tao.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What is a typical day in the classroom?

Author: Leah
Location: Koh Mak, Thailand
If you think about it, Argo is a floating classroom, in every possible way. From the moment a shipmate or staff member steps on board, there is constantly something new to learn. You learn how to breathe underwater, how food is secured on the stove as Argo crashes through the waves of the Gulf of Thailand, how to relate Oceanography projects to the world around us and much more. This constant learning process keeps life not only interesting but also makes it virtually impossible for Argo and her crew to experience a typical day. For example just a few days ago we weren't learning how to sway with Argo but how to rock to the movement of an elephant as it tried to dunk you in a local stream of Koh Chang. Yesterday, the Open Water divers were learning how to flood their masks and control their buoyancy at deeper depths.
Today's learning experience not only involved a new location but also new opportunities for many. The morning started out with a very filling bowl of oatmeal and the final dive for the Open Water students. While three shipmates enjoyed the local salt water of Koh Rang, everyone else enjoyed the fresh water shower compliments of Thai monsoon season. By 9:30 everyone was back aboard, the dinghy was hung and the anchor was secure in its pocket. We then began our wet journey to Koh Mak, a nearby island famous for its beaches. Through the rain and rock of the waves we motored to a protective harbor, where Argo became the only boat in the vicinity on the hook. After a deliciously warming lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup, the majority of the crew headed to shore in order to enjoy an afternoon of Thai culture barely touched by the world of tourism. Back aboard by 16:30, everyone chipped in to prepare the boat for tomorrow's departure. The day ended with a peaceful evening in the salon as students took dive quizzes, worked on their Oceanography homework and completed Knowledge Reviews for Advanced dives that will be occurring in Koh Tao. It is almost guaranteed that no other day in our remaining 30 days of this 40 day adventure will be similar to this one. Although everyone has quickly come to learn about life in Argo's classroom, the learning process out here never ends as we continue our voyage south to new places and new cultures.

July 20 Argo Update

The skipper of the day, Gary, calls in with the first podcast from the crew of the 40-day Global Sea|mester.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Haad Rin

Author: Edouard
Location: Haad Rin, Koh Phangan, Thailand
After breakfast, we had VHF Radio's lesson and we cleaned the boat. Then, we had lunch. In the afternoon we had OCE class, our third biology class. Until dinner we had free time. People were working or reading or sleeping. The day ended with a movie: Blue Planet Deep Sea.

Chill Day

Author: Bud
Location: Koh Rang, Thailand
So we started by hauling anchor and leaving Koh Chang and headed about six miles to Koh Rang, enjoying a great breakfast of French toast as we motored to our new destination. We had planned on diving all day but when we got there we came to find visibility was less than decent so while the new divers went out with Sam to get more dives under their belt the more advanced divers snorkeled around for awhile till lunch. After lunch the new divers went back out for another dive, and we decided to stay on the boat and work on our projects for class and do homework. We finished up the day by taking a refreshing shower in the ocean, then had a great meal of pad thai that Dan and Leah prepared for us and was most excellent.

*additional photos from the previous day's elephant ride have been included in this blog*

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mahouts for Hire

Author: Sam
Location: Koh Chang, Thailand
Breakfast was a wind sponsored event, cereal flying all over the place and papaya racing the melon to get off the top of the charthouse. After a short but rolly motor to Koh Chang we anchored and got people onto shore for the first full day out since Bangkok. The main event was Elephant riding into the jungle and a natural pool where you can swim with them, as comfortable in front of the camera as professional models the elephants and shipmates struck poses to put Zoolander to shame. After that a trip to one of Koh Changs' many waterfalls for some swimming and relaxing with ample shopping and eating opportunities on the way back to the boat. A few large squalls kept others busy during the day but as evening arrived the weather calmed down. A nice night out in Buddha View topped the day off with good food and a chilled out atmosphere staring at the fish through our glass tables and they even have Banana splits!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A New Day

Author: Rennie
Location: Koh Wai, Thailand
After an extremely turbulent of being tossed around in our bunks all night, we woke with sleep still in our eyes. But today brought a new beginning after finishing our 20 plus hour passage from Koh Phai. We anchored at Koh Chang and realized that it was still too rough so we motored about 45 minutes to Koh Wai. The island was beautiful. We couldn't wait to get out and explore but we first performed "boat appreciation" by cleaning off all the salt water from our passage. After that we were given the choice to take the dinghy to the island or to stay on the boat and nap. Luckily everyone was up for some exploration so we went to the island and went on a hike. We saw beaches covered with dead coral and beautiful coconut palm trees. To cool off everyone headed to the resort's outside restaurant to get some food and fresh smoothies - delicious! We headed back to S/Y Argo and had an oceanography class, showered by jumping off the boat into the water, ate dinner and then had our MTE class. It was a great, relaxing day! PS Hi Gina!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Underway to Koh Chang

Author: Tom Langan
Location: Underway to Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand
We left Koh Phai in the morning. Then we did "a man overboard." We practiced tacking. We reviewed the watch check list. In the afternoon, we had an oceanography class and the Open Water guys had a diving table session. The last activity was the squeeze: the question was "tell us about an event that changed your life."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Koh Phai

Author: Tom Langan
Location: Koh Phai, Thailand
We raised anchor before breakfast, leaving Koh Sak and motoring about five miles west to Koh Phai. The island is the property of the Thai Navy, so we tried to check in with the island outpost, but received no response. Shortly after anchoring our divers were in the water, later resurfacing to the sounds of monkeys in Koh Phai's bamboo forest. After lunch, the shipmates prepared Argo to set sail to Koh Chang the next day. There are numerous sheets and halyards on Argo and everyone has started to commit them all to memory. Following dinner and a chat on life underway, we watched a movie about our hero Irving Johnson's sail around Cape Horn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First Breaths

Author: Chelsey LaCourse
Location: Koh Sak
This morning started off rainy and windy, much like the first few days we've been here. We started the morning with cereal and bananas and got the ship ready to travel to Koh Sak. New divers started their first dive and took their first breaths underwater. The experienced divers had dinghy training and explored the island. The afternoon was started with sun and warmer weather and the experienced divers had their first dive of the trip, while the new divers finished up their dive training. At around 4 a swell came in and we prepared the boat for the hard weather. However, it passed quickly and everything went smooth. The evening started with dinner: chicken pesto, mashed potatoes, garlic bread and salad. We had our First Aid and CPR training in the evening. So far us eight shipmates and five instructors are all getting along well and we'll begin our first long sail in a few days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How It All Begins

Author: Dan
Location: Koh Lan, Thailand
Shipmates awoke after a rolly first night on anchor near Jomtien Beach and immediately jumped to the task of hauling back the anchor as we prepared to get underway on our first short voyage to the nearby island of Ko Lan. Ko Lan proved an excellent first stop where we watched local fisherman and dive boats plying their trades off the lush tropical island and white sandy beaches. We introduced students to the program, the boat, and the wonderful world of SCUBA diving. The afternoon held more SCUBA classes for those new to the sport and a refresher for the old hands. In the evening staff introduced the shipmates more formally to Argo with a detailed orientation to the deck, charthouse, engine room, salon and galley. We slept peacefully under the protection of a diligent anchor watch as squid and fishing boats circled the gulf.

By all accounts the crew has taken to the ship well and everyone aboard is looking forward to the next 1000 miles of sailing and diving in front of us as we voyage south to explore Thailand and the distant horizons of Malaysia and Singapore.

*This entry includes pictures from the previous day's Bangkok Tour*