Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Last Day on Argo

Author: Gary
Location: Singapore
Today is everyone's last day aboard. After waking up to a cereal breakfast we immediately broke into our BA. We cleaned all day, from 8-5 breaking for a quick sloppy joe lunch. I spent my day below with Bud, cleaning the engine room, but the rest of the crew spent the day polishing the boat from bow to stern, sanding off all the varnish to prep for its refinish, cleaning the cabins, galley and saloon, and a slew of other things. Tonight we sign out of the program and have a night out in the town before flying back home. Bon Voyage Argo!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Navigation Masters

Author: Jessica (Beaker)
Location: Singapore
Today was the final day of "Exam Week," after breakfast everyone set to work on the Nav Master Exam, a certification they had been working on throughout the trip. Upon completion the rest of the day was free to explore Singapore. We took the bus from Sentosa and then the MRT (Metro) throughout the city. Singapore is an amazing city, very dynamic and extremely clean. The trains are being continuously cleaned and I don't think I saw any rubbish anywhere. Leah and I explored Chinatown in the morning, looking for a few items we hadn't been able to source for months - success! At 6 pm we squeezed and had dinner on the boat, before watching a great slideshow put together by Leah, and "Closing Program." It feels like we should keep going, and it will be a shame to say goodbye to such a strong crew in a couple of days.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

From Fishing Boats to Tankers

Author: Erin
Location: Singapore
We've finally reached our final destination, though our journey isn't quite over. The day started out with calm open seas and by 7 am we were approaching the busiest port in the world, and were surrounded by tankers. Looking back over Argo's stern as we approached Singapore it looked like we were staring out onto a busy city totally comprised of ships. After clearing customs and immigration it was time to dock. Fenders tied on and lines ready to be thrown we battled a rather strong current to enter the marina. With Sam in the dinghy leading us in we entered the marina. Turning the boat around 180 degrees we proceeded to dock stern-to. With Dan's smooth docking and piloting skills we were quickly throwing our lines on the dock and making them off. After a quite delicious lunch of mini pizzas we had an OCE quiz and then set about BA. It's been commented that each time we do BA it goes by even more quickly that the last. Before dinner we had an opportunity to explore this very classy marina aand take showers ashore. After dinner it was time for our OCE final.
Everyone is excited to be in Singapore and we can't wait to go explore this city tomorrow!

A Day of Lasts

Author: Leah
Location: Underway to Singapore in the South China Sea
Farewells are never easy. I remember when I was a shipmate how saying goodbye to life aboard Argo felt like it took days. There are so many small things that may not seem like much to the outside world but make us cherish our moments onboard. It may be minuscule, like striking the anchor ball for the last time, cooking dinner for the crew one final time or enjoying the stars on bow watch for one last night passage. Over the past 36 days we have mastered the art of flaking 4 shots worth of chain. Although one may sit in the anchor locker for 20 minutes making sure the chain lays in neat rows as the hydraulics slowly raise the anchor from the muddy bottom causing your arms to be covered in mud, you think "when will I ever get the chance to arrange 360 feet of chain that hold a 130 ton boat securely in place again?"
Our day of lasts began bright and early this morning with our typical 7:30 breakfast, which was followed by an Oceanography class and then a Basic Seamanship class. Once everyone's brains had wrapped around the concepts of marine management and three point fixes, we prepared the boat for one final passage. In the late morning drizzle, we removed sail covers, stored dive tanks and secured the dinghies, all the while catching our last glimpses of Malaysia, a place of stunning diving, diverse cultures and amazing people. As the sun began to shine after lunch, a final back flip into the local salt water was a necessity prior to departure. With the hydraulics in motion we raised anchor one last time this summer and began our passage to Singapore. With more OCE classes in the afternoon, shipmates had the opportunity to present their research projects they have been very diligently been working on while diving over the past few weeks. The day came to a close with deliciously spicy stuffed green peppers and a beautiful sunset as Argo continued to make her way south along the coast towards the bustling city of Singapore.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Day in Tioman

Author: Bud
Location: Tioman, Malaysia
Today we had a free day pretty much. We started off by doing runs ashore in the morning for whoever wanted to go. Some decided to hang out on the beach or find some internet while a few of us decided to go on a hike to the other side of the island through the dense forest which was about 5 miles there and back. Along our hike we came across groups of wild monkeys and one lemur looking thing and two snakes. Tomorrow afternoon we begin our 100 mile passage to Singapore.
*This entry includes pictures from the past few days of reef check surveys*

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tank... Check... Reg... Check... Reef... Check!

Author: Sam
Location: Tioman, Malaysia
Pulau Tioman may be fairly close to Singapore and mainland Malaysia but it has retained its rugged beauty and natural charm to be a favourite dive destination and a great stop on Argo's tour of the islands around Southeast Asia. Today we went to help Reef Check maintain their database of reef conditions around the world with two survey dives on the islands surrounding Tioman. After out practice runs yesterday and quiz on all manner of undersea life the shipmates were ready to rock, or fish, or coral, or urchin or whatever else they may be recording. We had honed up with another group of students from Blue Ventures who are here for a 6 week volunteer program to promote awareness of the reef and complete their own surveys. After splitting into our various teams which had us all mixed up with the "locals" we headed to our appointed sites. Beaker was supposed to lay the line for people to follow but the first thing we heard was "ow" in various forms of urgency as she jumped into and onto swarming jellyfish. Full wetsuit or not she decided after a few attempts to call it off at that site and head to another, thankfully free from most things painful. After a successful first dive we had lunch with everyone, I was subjected to the horrors of peanut butter, something I think I will come to terms with in a few years and thousands of dollars in counseling, and Ed and Gary gave some demonstrations of boat jumping techniques. The second dive went off without a hitch, and data collected we headed back to Argo to get dinner going and clean up for a night on the town, well... a night on the island at least.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Friends and Experiences

Author: Rennie
Location: Tioman, Malaysia
When we woke up we were excited to meet new people and learn about reef checks from Tioman Dive Centre. We ate breakfast and headed to shore where we got to meet nine other students and staff who have been living in Tioman for the past month, surveying the health of all the surrounding reefs. They were happy to see new faces, just as we were, and we got down to business by learning about reef checks. We had class outside at a small beach resort called Swiss Cottage and even got to drink coffee! We all chose what specific species we wanted to survey and split up into teams with the other group.
We then came back to the boat to get our gear and headed out for dive. We dove partnered with a person from the other group in order to learn the specific species we should be looking for. After that, we broke up for lunch and then went back to shore to drop off our clothes for dinner later that night. We swam out from the beach to do another practice reef check and dive then went back to Tioman Dive Centre/Swiss Cottage where we got to take warm showers and get cleaned up for dinner
We all got to hang out with the other group, drink some more coffee/soda and were tested on our reef check knowledge. We then ate a chicken curry for dinner on a candlelit table with them under the clear night sky. We all enjoyed talking and laughing with them. All together we really appreciated the hospitality that they showed us! We are looking forward to another fun day with them tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Arrival in Tioman

Author: Edouard
Location: Tioman, Malaysia
Breakfast was underway. Then we had lunch following an OCE class about waves. We arrived at Tioman around 3 pm. We washed the boat from bow to stern. We worked on our practice fun and on our article until shower time. Dinner was delicious, we had hamburger. We finished the day with MTE class and more practice fun and article to do or to finish.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Leaving Terreganu

Author: Tommy
Location: Underway to Tioman in the Gulf of Thailand
In the morning Dan went off to clear Argo out of Terreganu. Meanwhile, everyone prepared the boat for a 160 mile passage to Pulau Tioman. When Dan returned we cast off our dock lines and made our way out of the channel, dodging one of the busy dredging barges. We were informed that over the past four years, enough sand has been dredged out of the Terreganu River to fill nearly 50 thousand dump trucks.
Unfortunately, out at sea there was no wind for the afternoon. We just motored through the haze that restricted our visibility to 7 miles. The haze has reportedly been caused by farmers in Borneo, burning massive amounts of brush while clearing out new fields from the jungle. The wind finally picked up a bit after dinner. We were able to put up some head sails and motor, close hauled through the night.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Day Off to Enjoy Terreganu

Author: Chelsey
Location: Terreganu, Malaysia
Today was a day off to enjoy the atmosphere and culture of Terreganu. After breakfast of French toast and nutella made by Erin and Tommy we started the day with our MTE Navigation class. We learned about taking currents into effect when plotting our course. After class we had the rest of our day to go on shore or use the port's resort. Most of us chose to lay by the pool and read or study for our Geology quiz that we had after dinner. We had the usual afternoon rain that we've heard is common around here. After dinner we took our quiz and we had our OCE class where we got to dissect squid and snapper fish. Beaks printed off diagrams of what to look for and helped us as we carved through the smelly fish. Some of us found this fun while others chose to help only when needed. We also found various objects in the fish stomachs, like smaller fish, crab pinchers and small squid. We then dissected the large squid that Beaks got for us at the market and we used the pen inside them and their ink to write our names. We set sail for Tioman in the morning just in time to catch high tide out - so long Terreganu, Heritage Bay Marina and the six foot lizards that we've seen off the dock.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Boatbuilding and Barbecues

Author: Dan
Location: Terreganu, Malaysia
Today started off with a tour of the local boat building yards up the river from our marina. Local shipwrights have spent hundreds of years perfecting the slow process of constructing wooden boats built completely by hand using plans that exist only in their minds. They were pleased to share some of their creations with our students as we toured several yards throughout the morning. Most ventured into the town for lunch, sampling local Malay cuisine or food from street markets then afterward exploring the town and soaking up the rich local culture. This part of Malaysia is one of the most conservative Islamic areas in the country and out of respect we cover our legs and shoulders, this can get warm in temperatures approaching 100 degrees! Luckily the marina has a sizeable infinity pool where we could cool off after a long day of exploring. In the evening we revisited Americana with burgers and fries from the barbecue grill and an evening of storytelling and fellowship on the dock.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Up a River in Malaysia

Author: Mike
Location: Terreganu, Malaysia
Today was a very relaxed day. We started our short passage Redang to Terreganu at 5 am so we could arrive at the dock in a river at 10 am, which was slack high tide. This was our first time docking the boat instead of anchoring. For part of the day there was no wind but the sun was out, making some of hottest weather we've seen on the trip. After lunch we did some boat appreciation, which consisted of scrubbing the deck and sides of the boat. After dinner, we got to explore a night market near the dock, and tomorrow we might get to go into the city.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Test and Fun Day

Author: Chelsea
Location: Pulau Redang, Malaysia
Today was a sun filled day. With swinging off the boom and taking are OCE midterm. After swinging off the boom and watching many people flip and dive into the water we went ashore for a little lunch at a very nice restaurant. The food was delicious, after that we went on a wreck dive. It was so amazing how much life surrounds a wreck, the visibility was awesome. Overall, it was a good day in Redang. We are setting sail for Terreganu tomorrow. We are all looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Day in Redang

Author: Gary
Location: Pulau Redang, Malaysia
After a delicious pancake breakfast while underway to Redang, we all studied for our upcoming tests until lunch. After lunch, we went on an awesome dive with the best visibility yet. Other than that it was a fairly uneventful day. Mostly study filled. We planned out our day for tomorrow which included the boom swing, so everyone is excited for that.

Submergence

Author: Jess (Beaker)
Location: Perhentians, Malaysia
Today has been a great day underwater - unfortunately one hour short! After breakfast as we were preparing for class, the dive boat and captain pulled up along side, an hour early we thought. We were soon to discover the Malaysia is one hour ahead of Thailand so we sprang to action and prepared for the dive. We were soon motoring across a flat calm ocean towards Tokong Laut or the Pinnacles. Our driver took us on an exhilarating ride skirting between some narrow cuts between the rocks. Upon arrival at the dive site, we quickly dropped over the side and down onto the rock formation below. We were treated to sightings of baby nurse sharks, puffer fish and many schools of fish. We circumnavigated the pinnacle with a maximum depth of 75ft. In places where the current was strongest the fish life abounded. We surfaced and enjoyed another fast boat ride to Argo. Once back we had our delayed MTE class and then shuttled ashore for lunch. My favourite treat was the Mars Shakes, which were even better than I had remembered 10 years ago! The shipmates all enjoyed lunch ashore and internet time. Mike and Leah spent some time under the boat working on Dive Master skills, they completed their equipment exchange with great skill. We have just had Mexican tortillas for dinner and everyone is preparing for a night dive at Batu Nisan, and there is hope for sightings of parrotfish in the nighttime cocoon. Another great day on Argo.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lah Górn Thailand, Helo Malaysia (Goodbye Thailand, Hello Malaysia)

Author: Erin
Location: Perhentians, Malaysia
After a calm passage we arrived in the Perhentians. After a later than usual breakfast we set about doing boat appreciation. After lunch we set out in our science groups on a data gathering dive. It was definitely one of the best dives we've done so far. The visibility was amazing and there was a great abundance of reef life. After our dive we either laid around or worked on our OCE Lit Review presentations. All of us are looking forward to tomorrow's dives!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gone! Where's the Wind?

Author: Sam
Location: Underway to the Perhentians in the Gulf of Thailand
After racing through the night at a mighty 10 knots we finished out our watch as the sun came up with the wind slowly dropping and the hopes of a 200 M day vanishing. Still, after a good breakfast and some quality sleeping time it was up and around for the afternoons activities. It was to be an auspicious day, the first Argo Derby being held with the glitterati out and about and plenty of paparazzi to record the event. Since learning the ins and outs of dead reckoning the crew chose their horses for the big race well maybe not horses, but they did get a piece of bread each so fair's fair. The competition was fierce, set over an entire length of the mighty Argo, with good weather and completely soggy track underfoot the slices were out to prove a point, Moldy Crust set a good first time but was outstripped by Still Slightly Fresh who in turn was beaten to the podium by I'm Not Really Bread. The winner receiving absolutely nothing except the satisfaction of knowing that thanks to their efforts the students could plot our course and time to arrive in Malaysia! That competition is another story for another day hopefully when we arrive. There were a few tired faces still from a hectic night of assignment work but all were handed in on time. The rest of the afternoon was filled with more science class and some extra sailing knowledge including a somewhat modified MOB drill involving a 6m Bamboo pole?! After a good dinner and sheeting the sails for the night, watch team one has taken control of the deck and we are off to sleep.

Aug 2 Argo Update

Leah calls in from passage to Malaysia as the crew heads south.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Leaving Thailand

Author: Bud
Location: Underway to the Perhentians in the Gulf of Thailand
After breakfast we had the choice of going ashore for little while or staying on the boat, a few of us decided to go ashore and get some much needed supplies before our 260 mile passage down to Malaysia. When we got back to the boat we waited for the little Thai children to come aboard for a tour of Argo and see how everything works, then we all ate lunch together and went for a quick swim before the kids departed. Once lunch was all cleaned up and the children were gone we began to prep Argo and get everything ready for the long passage down. We departed Koh Samui around late afternoon in more than ideal weather for sailing and began our first watch team for our long trip ahead of us.