Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sailing Along

Author: Renee Stoehr
Location: Underway to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean
Mustering for the squeeze tonight before dinner you would never know that these 23 friends met less than a month ago. You would never think that we were in the middle of our first test week. And you would never believe the journey we've been on.
We woke up this morning to yet another beautiful sunrise and what would clearly be a great day. With our journey across the Indian underway, we are sailing with all six sails full. Today we were all thrilled to reach our top speed of 8.5 knots, but I couldn't help thinking it was a little bitter sweet. The journey that I've experienced has been something I could never have imagined and could only try to explain. So reaching our personal best time today just reinforces that life upon Argo flies by. I can't wait to see what else this journey has in store and jut pray it's one I never forget.

Sept 30 Argo Update

Renee calls in from the charthouse of Argo as she makes great time (hitting 8kts under full sail) to the west. Arrival in Christmas Island is expected in the next 48-50 hours.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Departing Bali

Author: Joe
Location: Underway to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean
Last night we began preparing Argo for the 600 nm sail across the Indian Ocean from Bali to Christmas Island. Leah and Gaylin took charge of provisions during our stay at the Bali Marina and after loading the shopping carts up with 250 boxes of cereal and 250 cartons of milk, headed back to the boat with a van full of food. We left the harbor this morning and sailed out over the 10,000 ft deep Java Trench. We finally got a break and had winds in our favor for most of the afternoon. The students in the PSCT class had a quiz on Collision Regulations and after our Marine Biology class we got our first opportunity to jump into the ocean for a quick shower. After a few swan dives off the bow sprit and a quick soap up and rinse, we hoisted all six of Argo's sails. Watch team 1 managed to hook into a baby tuna this afternoon, hopefully one of many we find while crossing the Indian. With full canvas up, we shut off the motor and ended the day with a beautiful sunset off our bow and a Mexican feast for dinner. With a little luck and the wind in our favor, we will land in Christmas Island in 4 days time.

"This is Sparta!"

Author: Luis Vecchio
Location: Bali, Indonesia
On my day as Skipper we had to prepare the boat for our trip to Christmas Island. Dan gave me the pre-cruise checklist and had me direct the preparation. This was really nerve racking because I did not was to mess anything up. But I think we did a good job and Dan was happy. Before we prepared the boat however some of us got to go on a provisioning trip. Our first one the day before had not gotten everything so we went again to get the rest, eight carts worth, creating a grand total of 25 carts. At night we had SLD or Student Leadership Development class, where we watched 300, a movie about true leadership qualities in people. Great movie.

Sept 29 Argo Update

Joe calls in from the first day of passage from Bali to Christmas Island. Joe gives us a run down of the activities in Bali which included surfing, shopping and cultural events. The crew is headed west in the Indian Ocean and making good time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Little Surfing and Provisioning

Author: Lindsay
Location: Bali, Indonesia
The day started a little out of the usual, with the blare of the fire alarm as a wake up call. After a little breakfast we made our way to Kuta Beach for a day of surfing! The whole group of beginners was split up into groups of three each with one instructor, so we all got some one on one time to improve our skills. At first, surfing didn't come easy to me-I would ride waves in on my knees, wobble back and forth, nose dive, and fall every possible way, but with time, we learned from our mistakes and everyone got up! After surfing, we all got a little free time in Bali and then returned back to the marina for provisioning. I have never seen so much food; I can imagine we made quite a scene at the grocery store, clogging up three checkout lanes with carts and amounting to a six-foot long receipt! We passed the food down a hatch from the deck to the galley, down below; I was on the receiving end catching every single item of food, it was literally raining canned food and my hands were on fire from catching all of the flying items. The saloon was covered from the floor to the ceiling in 250 boxes of milk, 111 cans of tomatoes, 55 pounds of rice, 100 bags of chips, 75 packages of pasta, and the grocery store's whole supply of cereal. All of this, combined with getting back our clean laundry and a change of sheets resulted in an amazing day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Places, New Adventures

Author: Leah
Location: Bali, Indonesia
The crew of Argo can go days without getting off the boat, even weeks, as we'll find out later in the program. But when we have the chance to stretch our legs, most people take full advantage of climbing onto the dock and exploring the local culture. First steps on shore are always rough, you have to once again find your shore legs. After days of swaying back and forth in order to balance yourself on a boat, you continue to sway even when there is solid ground beneath the soles of your flip flops. After a few quick adjustments in order to reach equilibrium once again, everyone was off to explore our newest port of call, Bali. The majority went to visit the local tourist destination of Kuta Beach, where surfers can be found catching the Bali wave, where there are endless possibilities to buy souvenirs for family and friends, and cups of coffee can be found at every corner caf. After soaking up the rays of the local sunshine everyone was shuttled off to a temple on top of a hill. As the sun slowly set over the cliffs and crashing waves in the background, monkeys sat in the trees and shipmates sat in the stands all watching as a traditional Hindu fire dance was reenacted. The evening was topped off by peaceful dinner on the beach at a local seafood restaurant. Now this is what I would call paradise.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back to the Big City

Author: Louise
Location: Bali, Indonesia
After a short night passage from Gili Island, we, along with some dolphins swimming by the bow, arrived in Bali at 1:30. Everyone was on deck enjoying the sight of a busy marina full of various water sports. There were people zooming around on rafts that lifted off the water so that they were completely airborne. Little fishing boats were taking their time cruising in between all the big ships that Argo beautifully maneuvered her way through. Seeing as she did such a good job, we had a thorough primping session for the pretty lady. Everyone had a spot to brush, scrub, or shine. We became a kind of entertainment for the local onlookers. I envied the people standing on the dock watching as we were sweating and shielding ourselves from Bali's bright sun. Of course though all our efforts were well worth it, seeing that we could claim such a classy chick knowing there would be a night out after also helped. It was a good day- we got some nice tans, saw some big boats, oh, and we're in Bali! Sweet.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little Mermaids

Author: Sam Butler-Hogg
Location: Gili, Indonesia
After a fairly windy passage and some strong currents cut our speed down, we arrived at the Gili Islands, a small group of three islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. The plan was to get in the water and do some diving, enjoy some shore time and then head out to Bali. For all the students taking the Open Water course this was the first time in the sea and it didn't disappoint, the visibility was great, the water was warm ish and there were plenty of fish around to keep wandering eyes occupied. We went with a local operator to take us out to the two sites and after 30 minutes or so underwater we had a good number of mermaids and mermen perfectly comfortable in their newfound environment, to the point of underwater sprints and a somewhat graceful back flip competition. After the dives it was shore time to get some cold drinks, colder ice cream and food, with the islands providing plenty of options for relaxing and watching the world go by. Shopping seemed to feature highly and we were greeted with numerous pairs of fishing pants on peoples return. After dinner we got the boat prepped for sail and at 10pm we headed off to Bali. The wind was still strong and we started slowly but once round the corner we had a current going in the right direction for a change which was nice. All in all a great day, some new experiences as with every other day and chocolate ice cream on a tropical island, what could be better!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Arriving in Gili

Author: John Callahan
Location: Gili, Indonesia
So today we arrived in Gili. Our trip wasn't entirely what was expected, the wind wasn't quite cooperating with us, but we're here and that's all that matters. We've been graced with great weather all the way through our journey, which kept spirits high. Tomorrow we're going scuba diving, which will be the first time for many including myself. Sitting here in the corner, I look around and everyone is nothing but smiles. Even through the rough early morning watches everyone is chipper. Today we also had "Boat Appreciation" which means we cleaned every surface on the boat, inside and out. Well time to go, I've got anchor watch from 3-4, so time for bed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clawing South

Author: Kevin Johnsen
Location: Underway to Gili in the Bali Sea
Another clear sunny day spent clawing our way south towards Lombok and our destination of Gili Island. This is my third time sailing through these waters aboard Argo. Both previous times though we sailed north towards Borneo with descent winds and seas. Now we are traveling south and fighting for every mile we get, against head winds and a stiff apposing current. This has without a doubt made things more difficult pitching constantly in the rough seas. But if it was easy anyone could do it. Upon reaching Gili this crew will already have over 1000 nautical miles and an equator crossing in their wake. At the end of a journey one can take pride in the completion of a difficult task.

Sept 22 Argo Update

First mate Kevin calls in with the days update from the charthouse of Argo as she nears Lombok.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kumai to Gili

Author: Katherine Cape
Location: Underway to Gili in the Java Sea
An unfortunate shift in the wind yesterday evening forced us to pull down our sails and motor through the night and into the morning. At 3am, the clear, starry sky had those of us on Watch Team #1 thinking we might get our first glimpse of a colorful sunrise, but as dawn approached, clouds and haze began to obscure the horizon, and the sun rose without giving us much of a show. After catching up on some sleep following the end of our watch, I awoke to find that the wind had shifted in our favor and the sails had been raised once again. Through the morning and into lunch, we watched the sail movement closely, hoping that the luffing would stop and that we would climb past 3.5 knots. Ultimately, however, the wind couldn't take us where we needed to go, so Dan (our trusted Captain) turned on the engine to get us back on course and up to a reasonable speed. With the engine running through the afternoon and evening, life on Argo carried on as it should. We had two classes in the afternoon-oceanography and our first student leadership development class-followed by showers on deck, dinner, and free time between watches. Perhaps the most notable event of the day was the complete absence of seasickness for the first time while underway on Argo this fall.

Sept 21 Argo Update

Argo is nearing Gili and is making good time! The wind has dropped off a bit so the crew has been forced to motor a bit more than they would like.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Riddles

Author: Jessica (Beaker) Fry
Location: Underway to Gili in the Java Sea
Another good day in the Java Sea! We are currently about halfway into our passage from Kumai to the Gili Islands. Watch Team 2 continues to have fun on watch - this morning's theme was riddles, and we had a few people stumped for the whole 3 hours. Spirits were high as we went to bed at 6am, with thoughts like "10 fish I caught without the eye. I can do the bottle dance, can you!" running through our minds. We were back on deck for the lunch time shift from 12-3. During which time we had classes and lunch. Today we had an MTE (Sailing) class followed by an OCB (Marine Biology) class, learning about some of the interesting ecological relationships in the marine environment. At 3pm we jumped forward an hour to Bali time, allowing us to take advantage of the daylight for dinner underway. Showers were enjoyed under the salt water "power shower" and dinner at 6pm. As we continue on our journey the deck quiets down again as the watches continue through the night. The most amazing thing on our 9-12 watch was the bioluminescent plankton, which was extremely bright due to the lack of moon tonight. Another great day on Argo.

Sept 20 Argo Update

Chief Scientist Jessica calls in to update us from passage with about 292 miles to go to Lombok.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Orangutan Reservation

Author: Nora DeKeyser
Location: Kumai River, Borneo, Indonesia
This morning we woke up on the river boats of Kumai. The night had been filled with sounds of the jungle and orangutans which was quite entertaining and fun to experience. After breakfast, we traveled down the river to a second orangutan feeding station. There were less orangutans at this feeding station which we learned was actually a good thing, because it meant the orangutans were finding food on their own. Next, we traveled even further down the river to a small town call Tan Jong. I really enjoyed meeting some of the people from this town. They were all very nice and seemed really happy. By 3:00 we made it back to Argo. A half hour later we hauled up the anchor, heading towards Gili, Indonesia!

Sept 19 Argo Update

Nora calls in the update for Argo as she departs Kumai headed for the Gili Islands near Bali.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"I Can Do the Stick Dance, Can You?"

Author: Kris (Peanut) Stevenson
Location: Kumai River, Borneo, Indonesia
Good Morning America! An early start the morning for the Yachtmaster trainees, weighing anchor at 04:30 in order to beat the tides and make it up river to the town of Kumai, known locally for its superb bird's nest stew factories. Upon arrival we were met by our good friend and jungle tour organizer, Gilang. We gathered all our jungle rations and survival tools, separated into 4 groups and embarked on a 4 hour river cruise into the heart of the Borneo jungle to visit our distant tree dwelling orange friends, the Orangutans. We arrived at a major jungle reserve in time for the 2 O'clock feeding frenzy. The excitement amongst shipmates was clear on all their faces, as if they'd been transformed back to their childhoods and were heading to Busch Gardens for the very first time. Having dined on a feast of Bananas and milk one lone female Orangutan and infant took a particular liking to Luis.
The day finished with a game of volleyball against the local jungle guides who proved to be too good for the visitors (although a number of rules and umpiring decisions were questionable) and a delicious meal aboard the boats before bunking down in some improvised bedding and mosquito nets for the night. This is Peanut signing off.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Sail Set

Author: Gaylin Didur
Location: Kumai River, Borneo, Indonesia
Day 10, 0100 hours. With a fierce headwind and fat rolling swells, our fearless first mate has noticed that the jib has become unlashed, he braves the bowsprit and weathers the crashing tide to lash down the jib. The captain gives the order to raise the main sail, and our six person watch team springs into action. This was to be the first time on this voyage that the sail was going up. We raised it well and we had the bare minimum of crew to do the job and we even reefed the sail properly. Up until now I had underestimated the intensity of sailing such a large vessel, but to quote an uncle "ocean sailing is 4/5 peace and 1/5 exhilaration." This, I will never forget. After the hoist Argo's speed over ground jumped to about 8kts, and this was all in the first three hours of the day. The swells persisted through lunch which was amusing as we had to assemble our sandwiches in the cockpit. Our open water divers in training took their PADI test which was a general success and we all went to bed salty.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Making the Experience Our Own

Author: Andy Dippel
Location: Underway to Borneo in the Java Sea
Today our adventure from Singapore to Cape Town, South Africa sapped out to be a great day. Our current location is 3 degrees 25.150 minutes south and 109 degrees 55.854 minutes east, 30 nautical miles from the west coast of Borneo and about 120 miles from our next destination of Kumai. The seas have calmed throughout the day and have provided us the ability to pick up the pace and hold a constant speed of about 6 to 7 knots and should arrive at the river about mid-day tomorrow. Today we had a marine biology class which consisted of a vibrant slideshow where we learned all about our little aquatic friends that we would be seeing along our dives as we skip from island to island, some of them friendly, like Nemo, and some, not so much. After admiring the pretty pictures of fish, we had a provisioning meeting where we got all the information about prepping our own menus for the remainder of the voyage. We got the gist of what sort of produce that we would be able to work with and what we should expect to cook with on day 12 of our ocean crossing. This a fairly exciting moment not only are we (the students) slowly learning the ropes and taking command of Argo and sailing her from port to port and ultimately a quarter of the way around the world, it is becoming our own journey to where the staff members are there to lend a hand but leave the rest to us. Agro is our home and is becoming more of a part of us each and every day.

Sept 16 Argo Update

Andy updates us on Argo's progress south.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Underway to Borneo

Author: Pat English
Location: Underway to Borneo in the South China Sea
Life underway continued as usual today for the most part. Watches were kept around the clock switching every 3 hours. We had our Introduction to Marine Biology today as well as the intro to one of our mandatory sailing classes. Both classes seem to be very interesting and are not taught in the conventional classroom which could prove to be a challenge. The highlight of the day was seeing a few dolphins off the Port side this afternoon around 4:00 PM. Clean up for dinner is always an interesting experience due to the fact that we are still in motion while trying to clean the dishes on the deck. At our current rate we should be putting in to Kumai on Thursday which everyone is pretty excited about.

Sept 15 Argo Update

Pat calls in as Argo continues south to Kumai, Borneo.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crossing the Equator

Author: Grace Huang
Location: Underway to Borneo in the South China Sea
Watch continued around the clock as usual today, but the days events began picking up after lunch. After lunch we all headed down to the salon for our Introduction to Oceanography class, and I think the crew will have an enjoyable and unique experience of not only learning about the ocean but doing it while simultaneously sailing across it! We then proceeded to learn how to read out PADI dive tables so we can now calculate how long and how deep we can dive in order to stay within a pressure group and not exceed out physical limits. Another safety precaution designed for SCUBA diving. The highlight of our day occurred around 3:30pm when Argo crossed the equator! We all participated in a crossing the equator ritual and the crew officially all became shellbacks-meaning we are people that have traveled across the equator on a boat. After the ritual of becoming shellbacks, we completed the process with a few of the crew shaving or receiving haircuts. Everyone was quite pleased with their new hairdos thanks to the styling talents of Kevin and Leah. The night rounded off nicely with dinner and night watches, which experienced a few amazing heat lightening shows, topped off with just a sprinkle of rain and oil tankers passing by on the horizon.

Sept 14 Argo Update

Skipper of the day Nora calls in the update from Argos passage between Singapore and Borneo. The crew experienced the tradition of crossing the equator.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Passage

Author: Michael O'Keeffe
Location: Underway to Borneo in the South China Sea
Hello, today was our first day underway. On route to Borneo, we left very early this morning, about 0600 hours. Watches started today; where we rotate between bow watch where we look out on the horizon and the sea ahead for any ships, hazards and land. Everyone was responsible for their own breakfast which was different from what we have become used to in the few days aboard Argo. We were cruising at a slower speed than we would have liked to be so we went through the process of raising two sails that are in the front of the boat, the main staysail and the forward staysail. We had our first introduction to the sailing classes today, basic seamanship and professional skipper training, where we went over the essential man overboard drills as well as the abandon ship drills. We also had our first shower while underway which was exciting and interesting to say the least. We rigged up the salt water hose above our heads and washed in ocean water, which was actually extremely refreshing. All in all today was exciting with start of our passage, the raising of the sails and our first saltwater shower, now off to night watch.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Day in Indonesia

Author: Chris O'Reilly
Location: Nongsa Point, Indonesia
We spent our first full day in Indonesia today. It was an early day where a few of us woke up around 5:30 and watched the sunrise, but most stayed in until breakfast at 6. The majority of us had to complete our first pool dives in our mission to get our PADI certificates, so we spent the morning submerged in the pool being watched by the guests and the help as we were the first people ever to scuba dive in their pool. We tried to get the boat ready and fueled after lunch so we could make it out the channel for high tide at 2:34, but unfortunately the tanks were nearly empty and it took too long and we missed our chance by an hour or so. We spent a few hours of free time on the boat talking and waiting for the fuel to fill up, and I find it amazing that by day 5 on board Argo (even by day 2) it feels like we have known each other for months. Tonight we can all have one last real shower before we start our 500 mile journey to Borneo tomorrow morning at 5:30am, good luck to the group who has the first watch of our program.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Leaving the Dock

Author: Samuel Paci
Location: Nangsa Point, Indonesia
Today was exciting, but quite long. I am having a difficult time adjusting to such long days. Just a week ago I was sleeping until 3 pm and going to bed at 3 am. Anyways, we finally left the dock today and it was so cool. There were hundreds and hundreds of boats going and leaving Singapore as we left. A crazy sight, I couldn't help but smile as the boat started rocking with the waves and a breeze blew in our faces. Before we could leave the channel we had to deal with immigration and by the time we were done it had begun to thunderstorm. Sam took that opportunity to make us watch another PADI video. I am starting to really fell at home on the boat and dig life on a boat so far, although we haven't really left the dock for more than a few hours. Can't wait to actually go sailing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Learning the "Ropes"

Author: Dan
Location: Singapore
Today shipmates gathered on the deck of Argo to begin learning about their new home. Staff worked through everything from line handling to head usage in a series of rotating seminars that allowed each student to ingest a maximum amount of knowledge. As the last few pieces of the ship's cruising paperwork came together, we prepared the boat for sea, and the short passage to Batam, Indonesia that will commence tomorrow morning. Later in the afternoon, SCUBA students worked on knowledge reviews while the old hands enjoyed a last dip in the infinity pool, finishing the evening off with a few PADI videos, an excellent meal, and a good nights sleep.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Days on the Boat

Author: Luis
Location: Singapore
The first couple of days on the boat have been great. My trip to Singapore was really something else. It was only the second time I had flown alone I never really thought I would be able to do such a trip by myself. But it ended up being a really cool experience. The worst part was just the being alone for 36 hours. The first day on the boat was really fun. I thought that it would be really awkward meeting all the new people but it wasn't at all. I felt like they have been my friend for the longest time probably because we have all the same interests. We are always doing something or learning something which is great. Everything is like a learning experience. Like the first night it was too hot to sleep in the cabins so most of the guys spent the night in hammocks on the deck. Captain Dan used this opportunity to teach us some new knots that are best suited for hammocks. The second day everyone went into town for the day. Before we left the boat we did a swim test in the marina's infinity pool. In town we made a stop at the botanical gardens which was an incredible sight. After this they took us to the night zoo, which is a zoo specifically designed for nocturnal animals and therefore is only open during the night.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sept 08 Argo Update

Captain Dan starts off the series of Argo's Fall 2009 podcasts.