Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick-or-Treat

Author: Andy Dippel
Location: Underway to South Africa in the Indian Ocean
Dawn broke with the warm sun at our backs and the wind and seas were the calmest we have seen since leaving Mauritius. Spirits were up and everyone was preparing for the day of excitement ahead and the common phrase of "speed and course" was changed to "trick-or-treat" and every child's favorite holiday reached the decks of Argo. Motoring about 175 miles off the east coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean everyone on board started to get into their roles and costumes and gathered in the cockpit for lunch, joining us for lunch we had a wide assortment of guests ranging from the elusive Pirate to the Village People. The festive crew began to make their sandwiches then all of a sudden there was a banging and scratching coming from below decks, the brave lil iPod opened the laz and a Thai stow away shot out from the murky bilge water muttering, "Please Please, don't hurt Don't throw off Want massage? Bread?"
After lunch, the costume contest began where each one of us strutted our way down deck with appropriate catwalk music being played in the background. In the end Kevin stole the show with his original stowaway costume and Chancy and Joe won the group prize for dressing up as each other.
After the festivities were finished, and the whole crew hopped up on candy and rejuvenated after the holiday fun, another day ended on Argo with the warm sun at the horizon and all of us looking forward to what tomorrow has in store while making our way across the Indian.

Oct 31 Argo Update

Andy calls in the Halloween update from Argo. Lots of merriment and fun aboard as a great passage continues.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Passage

Author: Pat English
Location: Underway to South Africa in the Indian Ocean
Today was our first full day passage since leaving Mauritius. While all of us enjoyed land the past few days, it is nice to get out on the ocean and start sailing again. I think it has to do with the fact that we know there are going to be challenges ahead and we feel we're ready to take them on. Last night after dinner, Dan and the rest of the staff issued the students the challenge of raising all the sails without any staff direction whatsoever. If they had issued this challenge back in the beginning of the trip it would have been an absolute disaster, but now we performed that challenge admirably. It's nice being able to perform tasks asked of you without trouble. Everyone is starting to break out their snacks bought on shore for their new watch teams so things should get interesting as we compare and trade. The new watch teams are working out great and everyone is excited to be working with new people closer than before.

October 30 Argo Update

Pat calls in the update from Argo' second day on passage to South Africa.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Setting Sails Sans Staff

Author: Grace Huang
Location: Underway to South Africa in the Indian Ocean
We had our last day in Mauritius, which we spent aboard Argo helping her get ready for her next and last long passage for this semester. While preparing the boat, a large Japanese research boat docked on our stern and it had a submarine on board! It was really cool to see up close and it resembled a spaceship. We also took off and stowed the flying jib. After lunch we had pilot vessel guide us out of the channel, then passed through immigration rather quickly. When we were out a ways, but still in sight of Mauritius' beautiful and scenic landscape, we did a massive deck clean to get all the soot from land off and make Argo beautiful and clean again. Afterwards we finished the second half of our Oceanography research paper presentations. During the presentations, Leah came down below and told us there were whales off our port side. Naturally we all went on deck to take a look. We saw a few sperm whale blowholes spout water but they were rather shy and disappeared shortly. After a delicious dinner, the crew was issued a task from Dan: set all the sails sans help from the staff. The staff has been assisting us up until this point in raising sails. We split into our watch new teams and successfully set the sails! This turned out to be a great way to be about to work with our new watch teams before watches formally began for this passage. We're now settling back into life at sea with our new watch teams. All sails are set and we're heading into our 10-12 day passage to Richard's Bay, passing south of Madagascar. The weather looks to be fair for the next few days and everybody is well rested and ready for our last long passage and to arrive in South Africa!

Oct 29 Argo Update

Argo gets underway on the passage from Mauritius to Richards bay, South Africa.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Last Shore Time Before Passage

Author: Micael O'Keeffe
Location: Port Louis, Mauritius
Today was the last day where all the shipmates and crew had time available to explore the shores of Mauritius. Many got provisions and snacks, and maybe some chocolates intertwined. Although the weather has not been as amazing as it has been in the past, the rain is sometimes a nice refreshing break from the scorching sun. While many of us including me have been delighted to be on shore I am even more excited to be heading to sea for another passage which will be a bit shorter than the previous, but will prove not to be short on adventure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Diving in Mauritius

Author: Chris O'Reilly
Location: Port Louis, Mauritius
We started off the day with an early breakfast at 6am so we could have a full day of diving. We woke up to a surprise on the deck: it was completely covered with soot from the tanker we are docked next to, so we got to clean it up after breakfast. While one group headed out at 7:30am for the first dive session, my group stayed back and got to enjoy a movie down below and relax. It was much needed. We got picked up around 11am and headed to the dive site where some of us experienced our first ever wreck dive where a Japanese fishing vessel sank in the 80's. There were two great dives, and we saw a moray eel that must have been the size of my leg. Most of us are exhausted from the dives and staying up late to finish our lit review papers, so tonight should be an early night on Argo for most of the crew. Good night for now. Mike will update you all tomorrow.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Free Day

Author: Samuel Paci
Location: Port Louis, Mauritius
Today we had one large free day. The group split up after two morning classes, so I am unsure at other people's day and what they did so I'll talk a little about my own. After class I helped out with a few things on board, fixing some leaks and what not. Around 12:00, three other shipmates and I ventured off the boat to a hotel that we booked for the day. It was quite the change of pace, having people serve us food and other luxuries that we don't have on Argo. It was a weird feeling. However, it was a great day consisting of hot water showers, sailing, windsurfing, swimming in a pool, free internet, laughs, steak, and most importantly chocolate milkshakes. When the day was over, we all felt extremely relaxed and ready to had back home to Argo.
*The pictures included in this entry are from the previous day's tour of the island of Mauritius*

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mauritius Tour Day

Author: Dan
Location: Port Louis, Mauritius
Today began early as we piled into two vans to see the sights of the island nation of Mauritius. For hours on end, our local guides fascinated us with amazing sights and experiences unique to Mauritius. There were many waterfalls, tea plantations, huge tortoises, sugar cane, a model boat factory, and even seven colored dirt! The day was broken by lunch at a local restaurant before proceeding to several scenic view points to finish the afternoon. Everyone ended the day tired and excited by the prospect of more exploration in coming days.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dry Land is Not a Myth

Author: Chancey Smith
Location: Port Louis, Mauritius
Spirits were high this morning. Rain showers were off and on but land was in the distance. After 13 days in the open ocean, we all marveled at the sight of the volcanic island and the dolphins which escorted us to the harbor. We have all enjoyed our passage, but are excited about the prospect of civilization. Mauritius customs boarded while we were underway to the island, and we were tied to the dock about lunchtime. For the fist time in over a week I was able to put my cup of coffee in the galley and count on it still being there when I returned to it. We have all developed an appreciation for level living spaces. After a thorough boat appreciation Argo is spotless. We have all put on our cleanest clothes (clean has become a relative term) and we are all eager for some shore time tonight.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Almost There

Author: Francis Smith
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Oceaan
Today was a good day. The sun was shining once again. We started out with a Marine Biology test, followed by a MTE class where we learned about estimating our position and using dead reckoning. Then we went up onto deck and were allowed to swim in our pool, the ocean, for showers. The water was clear and swimming was quite fun. We then had dinner. Tonight will be our last night on longest passage during this trip. I think some of us are excited about getting to shore but others are used to this simple relaxing life of sailing.

Oct 23 Argo Update

Argo nears Mauritius after a great passage over the majority of the Indian Ocean. 100nm to go!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halfway There

Author: Renee Stoehr
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
When you wake up each morning to a shining sun, full sails and a 360 degree view of the Indian Ocean it seems irrelevant that we're approaching our twelfth day being underway. Even more shocking is the fact that today is Day 45 of our trip. We have all discovered so much about ourselves and accomplished what we wanted to at the beginning of the trip, and it is amazing to think we still get 45 more days of this. We got a nice break as round two of exams rolled around with a presentation of a movie, Captain Ron, after lunch today. Some crew members are antsy to get back to land and reading ahead it seems that Mauritius holds much exploring and adventures. Landfall within a couple days would be nice but so far so good out here on Argo, to say the least.

Oct 22 Argo Update

Argo speeds up a bit and the wind comes back, will be in Mauritius soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nearing Mauritius

Author: Joe Torcivia
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
The sun has finally come out and the rain has taken a break. Although the wind has calmed, life aboard Argo keeps moving in full force. We had Oceanography class with Kris today and a PSCT pop quiz for those preparing to take their Yachtmaster exam. Everyone seems to be situated in life on passage in the Indian Ocean. However, with personal supplies of snacks and candy running low, most are excited to finally make it to Mauritius and re-supply. We are all looking forward to diving when we finally arrive, and some students who completed their Open Water Dive Certification will have a chance to become Advanced Open Water Divers in the next few days. Looking on the bright side, now that we have slowed down slightly, we may be able to catch some fish before we arrive. With the weather getting a little cooler, several students are planning to pick up some warmer gear in Mauritius. After dinner, clean up ended with a small dance party in the Galley with Luis showing off his moves. Tomorrow looks like another beautiful day, and hopefully the stars come out tonight for the watch teams.

Oct 21 Argo Update

Joe calls in the update from day 44, Argo's speed drops a bit as the wind settles a bit. Argo is only a few days out of Mauritius.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I am an Otter

Author: Luis Vecchio
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
Today we saw the sun for the first time in approximately 8 days. It was exciting. We had OCB and SLD class today, which were both interesting. In OCB Beaks taught us about bony fish and in SLD we discovered what type of leaders we are. I am proud to report that my leadership traits resemble that of an otter. Also today I presented my rock climbing speech in SLD class. And we can see Mauritius on the Nobeltec.

Oct 20 Argo Update

Louis calls in the day 43 update from Argo.

Oct 19 Argo Update

Leah calls in from Argo with the update from the Indian Ocean.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Days

Author: Leah Shopneck
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
Life at sea is the definition of peaceful. The Southern Ocean provides a constant swell, making your bunk an ever swinging hammock. The cool trade wind breeze enables us to dress in our cozy fleece and foul weather gear as we watch the starry night pass over our heads. The cleanliness of a mid-passage boat appreciation makes everyone smile. And the smell of fresh baked French bread reminds us that there is no place like Argo.
It is now day eight of our 2400 nautical mile passage across the Indian Ocean and the crew is enjoying every minute of it. The rhythm of sea life has grown on those that once thought themselves land lovers. Who needs a dining room table to enjoy a meal with 21 of your closest friends when there is a cockpit that fits us perfectly? As the majority of the day is spent in watch teams, meal time always turns into a social affair. The gophers bring up the prepared meals and set them in the cockpit, where many hands carefully hold the mixed sandwich meat or still warm chili in place against the swell. Chefs then carefully begin making a plate: one scoop of rice, a few spoonfuls of meat, 2 tortilla shells, a handful of sauted onions and peppers, and maybe a little salsa and cheese to finish off the ideal taco. Laughter quickly fills the cockpit as stomachs fill and the peacefulness of a mid ocean sunset adorns the sky. Who wouldn't ask for a better way to spend your days?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainy Day

Author: Louise Bailey
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
Today we had more rain - the kind where it's just a steady stream flowing out of a gray sky. Although the waves weren't the biggest we've seen, the rain made it more interesting to move about the deck. After being out in the rain for a few hours, a bit cold and wet, it provided a nice laugh and relief. What was even better though was discovering we got to have some delicious and nutritious Pad Thai in the comfort of the saloon. There was no food flying off our plates as we sat around the tables even though we found it kind of a strange feeling to be eating at actual tables. No worries though, all our good upbringings kicked in and we ate like civilized people. And, for the icing on the proverbial cake - we made a 205 mile day! Mauritius is maybe only five days away if the winds keep up. Either way, we're having a good time and life is sweet.

Oct 18 Argo Update

Argo update Oct 18

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thar' She Blows!

Author: Sam Butler-Hogg
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
Another day in the middle of nowhere, and apparently today we are at least 1000 miles from any kind of land, fitting then that this is the day we see more things than the last 5 two logs, two lots of whales and a light, well a glow at least that we can pretend was a boat. We also acquired a boat pet, for a short while at least. A bird decided to use us for some shelter overnight so we decided to name him Goat, no good reason why but it seemed fitting. Goat stayed with us happily munching on some flying fish that keep peppering the boat and those aboard. After breakfast we decided that it was time for goat to go as another bird was flying around looking for him, so bundled in a towel Francis picked him up and sent him on his way. There were two classes, showers and meals as usual and a schlop served up by Gaylin Cooking Co. to keep us all in good health. Watches continue as we head further toward our destination.

Oct 17 Argo Update

Argo updated posted Oct 17

Friday, October 16, 2009

All is well in the Indian

Author: Joh Callahan
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
So today was just another day on the Indian, and everything was all and well. We had a few cool occurrences today, mainly being the showing of a couple pilot whales. Originally they were thought to be exceptionally large dolphins, but Beaker was quick to point out that we were, in fact, mistaken. The pod of whales followed us for a mile or two, lazily popping out of the water and being generally dolphin-esque. Today we also had a debate, which was a refreshing change from the normal rigors of a classroom located on a 112' yacht. We had a friendly discussion on the pros and cons of aquaculture, which is another term for fish farming. Things got quite heated towards the end, but in the end we managed to shake hands through gritted teeth, tired of arguing. The rest of the day was essentially a normal day, showers at three, dinner at six, etc. Everyone seems to be getting in the groove of days underway; nausea seems to be a thing of the past for the most part. No one is happier than I to say this, considering there was nearly a "Reserved" spot for myself located directly at the stern of the boat. A black market has also reared its ugly head recently, turning innocent, harmless crew members into haggling machines. Anything has a price, when you've got a hankering for a sleeve of Oreos or a snickers bar. Other than that, everyone seems to be getting along just fine, as we are chugging along to Mauritius.

An Epic Day

Author: Casey
Location: Bequia
Today was an epic day in all senses of the word. The morning started off with a 6:30 fire alarm test. Everyone came on deck bright eyed and bushy tailed with their big orange PFD's on. After breakfast we got Ocean Star ready for the sail from Mayreau to Bequia. While underway, just before noon, the fishing lines we had out started peeling away. Captain Kevin quickly grabbed a pole and was soon reeling in a monster Mahi-Mahi. We managed to land the fish, which weighed about 30lbs or so. An hour later we found ourselves nearing the island of Bequia. We dropped a hook (anchor) and soon put the boat the boat away. The main sail flake was awesome, spirits were high. Everybody helped out with the boat appreciation (BA). For dinner Kevin cooked up the fish and all on board ate some and enjoyed it, even Devin a sworn seafood hater said she liked the fish. It was very sweet day and I feel that the shipmates are really starting to come together as a crew.

Oct 16 Argo Upate

Update for Oct 16

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Wave Ocean Surfing

Author: Kevin Johnsen
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
The southern Indian Ocean has a reputation for being a bit rolly. Since leaving Bali we've come to learn this more and more. Now that we are almost half way across, the ocean has decided to have a bit of fun with us. By midday the swells had picked up to a consistent 4 to 5 meters. The crew has been practicing their down wind helming and surfing Argo down the waves. The down wave speed record for the trip hit 12.4 kts today. Although a shoulder workout everyone has been enjoying the intense steering and the occasional saltwater over the cap rail which kept everyone on their toes and in their foulies.
As the day came to an end and the seas died down a bit, life aboard stopped for a short while to watch a beautiful sunset. They have been far and few between this voyage so it was especially nice to stop and enjoy the moment. As we sail into the night I am amazed again at what we do. It's been four days out of Cocos and we haven't turned on the engine once. Nor did we really use the engine since leaving Bali. We will sail completely across the Indian Ocean solely by the power of the wind leaving only a wake. There is something very cool about that.

Oct 15 Argo Update

Kevin Johnson calls in with a the mid ocean update from Argo with news of a new speed record for this crew of over 12kts as they surfed down a nice Indian Ocean swell.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Somewhere between Cocos and Mauritius

Author: Katherine Cape
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
As the trip to Mauritius continues, most of the shipmates are starting to realize that our days are developing a very enjoyable rhythm. Throughout the shorter passages we've sailed up to Cocos Keeling, many of us noticed that just as we found our sea legs, we would be dropping anchor or pulling up to a marina and settling down on somewhat solid ground. Although arriving at and exploring a new country is always very exciting, settling down on Argo and looking forward to each of our 8-15 remaining days - the E.T.A changes by the minute due to inconstant wind and steering - is definitely a comparable feeling.
So, as Day 37 came and went, the shipmates on Argo grew a little more comfortable with life at sea. In the process, we had an oceanography class about fisheries and a PSCT class in which half of the group presented on their engineering topics. And because our personal food rations are dwindling as we get farther and farther from our last grocery store, bartering for sweets has reached an all-time high. It seems that frequency of chocolate cravings and distance from shore are directly related, so anyone who has managed to ration their chocolate is in a good position to make some very advantageous trades in the coming days.

Oct 14 Argo Update

The day 37 update is called in by Kat. Argo continues west at a good pace as the crew works to optimize their sailing skills to maintain a 200nm per day pace in the lightening breezes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ninety East Ridge

Author: Jessica (Beaker) Fry
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
Another great day of passage, as we continue to head westwards across the Indian Ocean. The swells have subsided a little today and the wind remains fresh as we surf and cruise the waves averaging 8-8.5 kts. Everyone is getting good at downwind steering as we follow the trade winds towards Mauritius. Today's classes were OCB and MTE. In Marine Biology we concluded our classes on invertebrate taxonomy, and looked at some shells I have collected. Everyone was also issued with a map of Asia to annotate with interesting oceanographically features of our voyage and add to their log book. Everyone's log books are coming along nicely as the sketch and describe some of their favourite marine organisms. Following classes we had shower time on deck, and then an early dinner, to allow clean up before the sun sets. It's now 7:30pm and Watch Team 2 has the deck. It is my turn to tell the watch story, tonight about something beginning with "X". A tricky one, "(e)Xhibition" - I'll tell them about my trip to the Edinburgh Festival with the "Harston Harmonites" steel band when I was younger!

Oct 13 Argo Update

Chief Scientist Jessica calls in with a detailed update from Argo as she and her crew slow a bit in their pace towards Mauritius.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Indian Ocean

Author: Nora DeKeyser
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
Today was our first full day of our passage from the Cocos Keeling islands to Mauritius. We have found that the waves in the Indian Ocean are much bigger than what we've been used to. A lot of people have had trouble sleeping because the boat is so rocky, but we will soon get used to it. Today we had our third class of Student Leadership Development which was fun. Following SLD we had Oceanography which is always interesting. We averaged 8 knots for most of the day which gave us a 200 mile day since be left Cocos Keeling. We are hoping this wind continues so that it will be a fast trip to Mauritius.

Oct 12 Argo Update

Nora calls in for the Oct 12th update from Argo as she makes great time west in the Indian Ocean.

Oct 11 Argo Update

Kris Stevenson, one of Argo's two scientists calls i n the podcast to update us on the crew's time in Cocos Keeling. Argo has now turned her bow west towards Mauritius and will be updating the podcast daily as they head west on what is expected to be a 16 day passage.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back to Sea

Author: Kris Stevenson
Location: Underway to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
G'day, the morning began with a quick sunrise dip in the crystal clear oceans amongst some inquisitive sharks. Following breakfast, Argo was meticulously prepped, under the eagle eye supervision of yours truly for her, arguably, most grueling passage of the semester, a possible 17 consecutive day sail across the Indian Ocean to the island of Mauritiusno big deal! There was definitely an air of excitement amongst the crew as preparations were made to set sail. Argo was eventually cleared around 13:00 leaving us free to depart the tropical paradise of Cocos Keeling, but only after Australian customs had a good chuckle at some of the crew's passport photos. With the islands disappearing beyond the horizon there is definitely a feeling of being locked in a time lounge with an endless supply of rolling swells and strong ocean breezes, Mauritius seems an eternity away.bring it on!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Last Day in Paradise

Author: Gaylin Didur
Location: Cocos Keeling, Australia
It was to be our last full day and only free day in paradise, Cocos Keeling. The morning started off bright and early, we had a group of freshly trained Open Water Divers and a couple new Advanced Divers go down to co-exist, if only momentarily, with the plethora of sharks, fish, giant clams and the occasional spritz of eel. The dive was reported as unadulterated beauty in a place barely seen by humanity. I considered us lucky.
There was a group separation that had to occur, to many choices, too little day. Some went to "town," collecting passage amenities and food stuffs, supposedly the milkshakes were quite good. There were those of us that stayed on board to erect the boom swing. This process was quite involved and took over 1 hour to completely disassemble the rigging in order to hoist the main sail boom about 30 feet in the air and 15 feet over the port side of Argo. We proceeded to attach a spare line to the end of it and fling ourselves into the sea by way of the port aft pinrail. The leap of faith was very humorous or very impressive. Some of us attempted flips, some succeeded, such as Luis when he prevailed finally with a blackflip of grace and elegance, though the cameras were stowed away by then, so the only record of his success is this log.
In the afternoon many of us were not longer in groups and I had decided to attempt to burn the image of paradise into my mind's eye. The view from the beach on Direction Island made me consider how I was supposed to return to reality. And the sound was like walking on powdered sugar, and the scenery was so serene, so tranquil, it was bliss.
In the evening we convened as a group and started a custom's approved bonfire, complete with grilled burgers and potato wedges; crafted by none other than Captain Dan and the ever joking Sam. Dinner was punctuated by a beautiful skyscape as we sat around the bonfire. Sadness and happiness began to settle on many of us, as this is our last day in Cocos. The great happiness was felt though as it was Lindsay's birthday. We had delicious brownies and sang poorly but in such high spirits that all ended with smiles on their faces.
P.S. During my cruise of Direction Island in the afternoon before the majority of us came, my friend Chris taught me how to open the fallen coconuts with an old anchor placed there by the locals. The fresh coconut milk was so delicious that I completely forgot about my water and the meat was to die for. The discarded coconut meat eventually brought forth a small pilgrimage of hermit crabs. They paraded out of the foliage in marching band fashion and descended upon the coconuts with veracity. It was a sight to behold. During the thick of the feast I counted upwards of 40 hermits. This I will never forget.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day in Paradise

Author: Andy Dippel
Location: Cocos Keeling, Australia
Today, Day 32 of our 90 day journey around half of the globe. Now we have spent over one third of our time aboard and the days are starting to fly by, great friendships are being made and everyone is staring to mesh as a whole. Well as for today, we had our first full day in this ocean oasis called Cocos Keeling Island, it's a secluded spot tucked away in the middle of the Indian Ocean closely protected by the Aussies. It has been said that the marine life here rivals that at the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific and today we were able to take in this natural wonder by having two epic dives along the colorful reefs where we saw everything from rare coral formations that are only found here to curious black tipped reef sharks swimming by almost in arms reach to say hello. After that, we went ashore to explore one of the atolls islands, the beaches are something that you would see in a travel brochure or a commercial and when exploring we found that the shells seemed to move by themselves, but soon discovered that these little hermit crabs were only inhabitants on this island besides the occasional seabirds stopping by for a pit stop and the random chicken that chilled near the picnic tables with its own water bowl. The day came to a peaceful close with everyone together talking about their day and with a sunset that seemed to be painted across the sky with no color forgotten as the backdrop. Today was a day that all the crew aboard Argo will not soon forget and tomorrow we will have more of the same of this indescribable wonderland here on Cocos Keeling Island.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adventures in the Ocean

Author: Pat English
Location: Cocos Keeling, Australia
Today we arrived at Cocos Keeling and what a sight it is. Everyone was taken back and stunned by the sheer beauty of everything from the islands to the water. This is easily the most beautiful place I've ever visited. After lunch today we had to do BA in order to get the salt off everything. Even though the work can be a bit dry at times it's pretty fun because everyone is taking part in making Argo look good. I was in one of the dinghies soaping and waxing the hull from the outside and what an interesting adventure that was. After we finished up with BA it was shower time and we were all looking forward to this because Dan told us we were allowed to shower in the ocean today and that's always fun. The water was a nice relief after a few hours of cleaning in the relentless sun. Once shower time was over a few of us decided to go snorkeling out by the reef because we had heard that there were some truly amazing sights to see underwater. The two big highlights of the snorkeling trip were seeing a school of about 30 parrotfish and seeing 3 different Black Tip Reef sharks in close proximity. Seeing those sharks was one of the coolest things I've ever seen and I can't wait to go back to the reef tomorrow and dive to see what else is in store.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

1/3 of the Way Through

Author: Grace Huange
Location: Underway to Cocos Keeling in the Indian Ocean
We are 1/3 of the way through this 90 day voyage on Argo. It started out as fairly routine morning but things began rolling along after lunch. Our first class was Marine Biology where we learned all about Cephalopods. I never realized how good they were at camouflaging and sneaking up on prey. We watched a few short clips demonstrating the cunningness of the octopus. We saw them change the way they swim and how they changed the placement of their tentacles while swimming to imitate different animals. The best video was one where a shark and an octopus were put in a tank together at an aquarium. The shark decided to pry on the octopus and eventually the octopus camouflaged itself in with the sea floor so when the shark swam by the octopus grabbed it wrapping his tentacles around the shark and won the fight. In MTE class we began learning about navigation and got our first practice fun assignment- Kevin's way of naming homework so it's more exciting. After class, while on deck there was a sea turtle spotting. He was about two feet in diameter and swam past Argo. This was many shipmates first time seeing a sea turtle. I'd say a good first to experience and to commemorate finishing the first third of our voyage.

Oct 7 Argo Update

Grace calls in for the day 30 update as Argo continues west in the Indian Ocean.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Indian Cruising, Nothing in Sight

Author: Michael O'Keeffe
Location: Underway to Cocos Keeling in the Indian Ocean
Today has been a fairly regular day of watches, I was on from 0300 until 0600 which included sunrise. The sunrise coincided with the moon fall this morning which was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The unmatched break of the day makes me really think about my time out at sea, and instill a sense of accomplishment and awe for where I am and what we, the entire crew and staff of Argo are doing. We are undertaking a huge task, crossing the Indian Ocean, though sometimes seems a bit less daunting because of the way it is broken up. The day was filled with classes, PSCT where we learned about planning a passage which I have done before but will do again in much further detail. We also had a class in Oceanography in plate tectonics, which I always enjoy. What is most amazing is that with every hour we get closer to being in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and effectively the middle of nowhere. There has been a lot of studying for me the past few days, but nothing more than an average college day. Watch is back on tonight at 2100, which is my least favorite watch but I am sure that everyone one on my watch is looking forward to the story that I have prepared, watch team two (Beaks, Kris, Joe, Louis, Louise, Grace, Nora and I) have started to tell stories which correspond to the letters of the alphabet, I have the letter P tonight. Maybe a story about Paris is in order. Good night all.

Oct 6 Argo Update

Michael calls in the Day 29 update from Argo as she makes great time on her passage from Christmas Island to Cocos Keeling.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Christmas is Over...Boxing Day?

Author: Chris O'Reilly
Location: Underway to Cocos Keeling in the Indian Ocean
This morning was spent prepping the boat for our 11 am departure for Cocos Keeling. We woke up early for a boat appreciation around 6:30 to get a good hour in before breakfast. After pancakes we had our boat prep (more chafe gear for the sails, more grip tape on the decks for the swells we are predicting, and some never ending rust busting). The clean up went smooth, we were underway around 11. The swells weren't too big, and we cruised most of the day between 8.5 and 9.5 knots and we are expecting to reach Cocos early. We are all in good spirits with our stock piles of personal provisions that we were able to make on Christmas (chocolate, crackers, skittles, etc.) and it should be a great trip now that we know what we are doing (for the most part). With almost a month under our belts and upwards of 2,000 miles at sea, we have come to love our time in between ports and cherish the peace that is found with the endless rocking of the sea and a horizon line that only changes with the rising and falling of the sun. I have to say good work to my watch team (Sam, Leah, Lindsay, Chancy, Gaylin, Francis, and myself) for setting the new top speed of the voyage to 10.7 knots.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Author: Samuel Paci
Location: Christmas Island
We've been in Christmas Island 3 days now, because we arrived a day early. We had a pretty flexible day which was nice. Shore time, dive time, lunch time, study time. Those of us who went to shore had varying experiences. A couple people managed to hitch a tour of the whole island that lasted two hours, while some of us battled with the internet at the Tourism Centre. Xmas Island is a pretty cool place. Everyone is super friendly. Last night the police sheriff tried to help a few of us meet some of the locals; much different atmosphere than a lot of us are used to coming from back home. Diving was incredible, definitely the highlight of our visit so far. There was a giant coral shelf along the island with tons of life. Wish I could live down there for a year. Saw my first shark. It was about 20 feet below me and probably 4 feet long. Not a big one, but still cool. We had chocolate chip cookies with dinner. Delicious.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's Christmas Time

Author: Dan
Location: Christmas Island
Today was an excellent day spent in exploration above and below the water of Australia's Christmas Island. Open water divers completed their 3rd and 4th dives, finally becoming officially certified while advanced divers explored the underwater drop-off on a deep dive and a night dive, moving a couple steps closer to their certifications. Between and after dives, students ventured ashore to take in all that Christmas Island has to offer; some explored shops and supermarkets while others relaxed and made friends with the locals. Some went ashore again after dinner to visit the Harvest Festival which occurs on the largest full moon of every year, which happens to be tonight. The weekend is filled with activities on the usually sleepy Christmas Island so we're looking forward to some live music and more activities as the festival continues tomorrow.

October 3 Argo Update

Captain Dan calls in the update from Christmas Island on the evening of the Harvest Moon. Lots of diving and adventure for the crew of Argo in the Indian Ocean.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Christmas

Author: Chancey Smith
Location: Christmas Island
We knew we were close when we spotted birds overhead. Land was sighted about 4 o'clock this afternoon, and after practicing a few tacks we have arrived at Australia's Christmas Island. After spending the evening clearing customs and doing our usual boat maintenance, everyone is eager for tomorrow's rare trip to shore. The town appears very simple but beautiful. Kayakers stopped to say hello, and assured us we will not be disappointed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blue Planet

Author: Francis
Location: Underway to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean
Today the wind has been roaring and Argo has kept a constant speed of about 8.5 knots, which should allow us to arrive in Christmas Island tomorrow. It has been a beautiful day with the sun shining and the ocean glistening. We started out the day with a Marine Biology test followed by a viewing of the introduction to Blue Planet. Then as we came on deck we were reminded of how we are living in this blue planet by the sight of a whale 100 yards off the bow. The whale quickly disappeared and we went back to steering around fishing vessels. This was followed by a meal of chicken curry which required lots of focus to eat due to the steady rocking of the boat.

Oct 1 Argo Update

Francis calls in on the first day of October as Argo continues west. Great spotting of a whale today in addition to completing the first exam in Marine Biology. The crew should arrive in Christmas Island in the next 24hrs.