Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mega BA

Author: Leah Shopneck
Location: Antigua
As the sun rose this morning over the 150 foot yacht docked off our stern, the smell of Ned and Kira's breakfast wafted from the galley: a smorgasbord of pancakes and other delicious foods was on the menu for our last breakfast as a crew. After a quick clean up we kicked off a BA unlike any other BA. Usually during our routine post passage boat appreciations we clean out the fridge, cover the sails and wash the deck, but today we went beyond our past check lists. We also made every pin sparkle, the haul shine with a little elbow grease and every cabin and bunk look like it was cleaned by a professional. Despite the rain showers that we endured throughout the day, Argo now looks like a mega yacht ready to race in a regatta. As the last deck brush was put away the smiles and watery eyes of the crew showed the pride that they had in their beloved vessel. This may be the last day the Spring 2010 crew of S/Y Argo is complete in order to recite our well practiced count off, but this only begins our journey down the 'road less travelled." From this point forward we have chosen a path that will be full of adventure and a group of friends that are always there to share those adventures.

*To the crew of Argo: As I write this final blog entry, I'm sitting at the chart house table thinking about how Argo already misses the businesses of a full boat. It may be only 7 o'clock in the morning but usually by this hour 24 people are laughing in the salon or on deck sipping their coffee. The quietness is almost deafening. So for one final time, thank you to the Spring 2010 crew of Argo and the people that made this adventure possible for those 24, these past 90 days were one for the record books*

Monday, April 12, 2010

Exploring Antigua

Author: Cammie Burke
Location: Antigua
Today was our last free day aboard Argo so we had the day completely open to explore Antigua. In the last two days our world has taken a 360 degree turn, where we went from being on the open ocean to now being surrounded by the ritziest mega yachts I have ever seen. The staff took some of the crew around the docks and talked to them about the various boats while other people explored the town. It is strange to be back in civilization and words cannot describe the feeling of knowing that I will be leaving Argo in a day.
Although it is heart wrenching to think of leaving Argo, I kept the squeeze question light and asked everyone their funniest moment aboard Argo. It was absolutely hilarious to relive the hysterical moments we have had the last 88 days and by the end of the squeeze my stomach hurt so bad from laughing. My 23 Argo family members have made this a trip of a lifetime and I will keep these memories with me forever.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thank You Leah

Author: Kevin Johnsen
Location: Antigua
I have good news and bad news. The good news is we have just arrived in Antigua, our final destination. The bad news is Im not going to tell you about it. Youll have to wait for tomorrow. Today I want to talk about Leah Anne Shopneck. Leah is one of the staff members onboard. Shes responsible for a number of things, but I basically think of her as a keystone take her away and the whole program collapses. Included among her duties is bringing you this blog. And although youve never met her, for the last 87 days shes been tirelessly working for you. Shes the woman behind the camera, always remembering to take pictures while the rest of us are busy playing in waterfalls. Shes the one that motivates and reminds each of us to write our skippers blog. Shes the one who always somehow manages to find internet no matter how remote our location or how slow the connection speed. And she is the one that courageously battles the technological problems inherent in the process. Its an incredible amount of work and if youre reading this, youve obviously been following them. If the blog is a window into our world, Leah is the frame. And since, unfortunately, you cant thank her in person I thought Id do it for all us.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

If this were a country song, IÕd have my wife back, my dog would be alive, and IÕd be rich

Author: Ariana Tobias
Location: Deshaise, Guadeloupe
Forgive me for writing this log in reverse, but I have to start with a description of our last passage prep. Our plan is to leave Guadeloupe in the middle of the night tonight, to ensure a mid-morning arrival in Antigua, our final destination. After a bittersweet pep talk from Dan, reminding us that these last 40 miles deserve the same high performance standard as the previous 6,200, we rolled straight into passage prep from dinner cleanup.
I wish words could describe how proud and impressed I was by the flawless execution of the 'Pre-Cruise Check List." As skipper, it was incredible to be able to watch the flurry of activity as we hauled up the dinghies and secured them on deck, prepared the sails, re-coiled the lines, put all the dive gear away, got the laundry off the lifelines, filled the day tank with fuel, ran the jack lines, and secured our personal belongings down below.
It was like (if youll excuse the clich simile) conducting a symphony every player in place, every note perfectly played. I want to give a huge thank you to the staff for taking a rag-tag group of teen- and twenty-somethings, land-lubbers and pollywogs, and using the past 85 days to turn us into a professional crew. And of course, kudos to my fellow shipmates, who are the best group of people you could ever hope to cross an ocean with, en route from South Africa to the Caribbean.
I had to start with that, but the rest of the day was no less remarkable. In the pouring afternoon rain, we set up the 'boomswing" (which is exactly what it sounds like). A dedicated group of eight took charge of raising the boom and securing the lines, and the whole group had a blast launching themselves off the boat, swinging across the water, and dropping (some more gracefully than others) into the water. We ended the day with more than a few bright red bellies and backs, and Stephanie the undisputed champion of the backflip.
Lunch was a delicious Mexican feast of quesadillas, and the morning consisted of an optional river hike in Deshaise for those of us not retaking any exams. Breakfast was cereal at 0730, preceded by wake-ups at 0700 by yours truly. Phew, reliving a day backwards is hard work, but I couldnt have asked for a better last day as skipper.

Friday, April 9, 2010

End of Finals Week

Author: Cat Buckley
Location: Deshaise, Guadeloupe
Today was another fantastic day in Guadeloupe. We awoke to some scrumptious breakfast muffins and cereal. After clean up, we all split to go a few different places. Some chose to go diving, others to shore while a few hung around the boat to study. At lunch we all traded places. By the time dinner rolled around most everyone had had a chance to explore the underwater wonderland and the enchanting little town of Deshaise. It was a nice relaxing day, wandering around town, eating ice cream, swimming, studying, reading and diving; a much needed day of randr as our 'finals week" winds down. As usual, at six we all gathered together for our beloved squeeze and a hearty dinner of chili and rice. A few eating contest and boxes of Salticrax later it was time for the Marine Biology fish identification quiz. Now we are all scattered around the boat, chatting in the bunks, watching movies or spread out in the salon cramming for our last big exam. Its hard to believe our time on Argo is going to be over so soon; it feels like just yesterday we were all moving on board, meeting each other, learning about the classes and the parts of the ship. Though I will no longer be here physically come the end of the trip, Argo and the people and experiences I have had will remain with me for years to come. This has truly been an inspiring, revitalizing and live changing ride, for that I thank Argo and her crew. I am grateful to all of you for livingfor living lives unimagined!
-Always Cat (Skip of the Day)
*This blog contains pictures from the previous day's diving at Pigeon Island*

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Next Stop, Antigua

Author: Dwight Churchill
Location: Deshaise, Guadeloupe
I am writing my last skipper's log aboard Argo here in Deshaise (day-hay). It is the second anchorage here in Guadeloupe that we have visited and due to the winds making themselves known we only had a brief stay at Pigeon Island before this. I asked my last question at the infamous 'squeeze" tonight. It was asking where or what you thought the person to your left would be doing in 10 years. It was aimed at the future purposely because thats what everyone on board has to look forward to. For most on board these are the last days on board, for some its just the beginning. Wherever we do end up, which apparently for me is living in a pretty nice shack straight out of the movie Into The Blue all the while diving and sailing (sounds good to me), Argo will forever be in our memories. I think, I speak for most saying that she has brought us some direction in our lives and if this is true, it could only be an epic adventure filled with too many tales to tell and too many experiences to share. I say thank you to everyone on board for showing me the best time and adventure of my life and to my family back home, Ill see you in May!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last Stops Before Our Final Destination

Author: Jason Chodakowski
Location: Guadeloupe
Just a moment ago, fulfilling my responsibilities as Skipper of the Day, I took down the ensign from the stern, and realized that on this voyage it would be the last time I would do so. As we lay anchored off the western coast of Guadeloupe, gladly finishing our remaining final exams and assignments, many of us have similar bittersweet thoughts about the coming last days, mostly disbelief at how quickly time moves. But how wonderful it was spent! And though we still have much yet to see and dives to complete, I must give my acknowledgments to those responsible for this incredible journey that I have been so fortunate to take part in. To my mother, father, and brother I give infinite thanks and love without them nearly all the incredible things I have been able to see and do would surely have been impossible. Endless thanks to you and all my family! And to my friends Stanley, Mark, David, Roger, Joan, Al, Dan, and Donna I am looking forward to seeing you all soon! Until then, however, we have a precious schooner to safely deliver to Antigua. Go Argo!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The End is Near

Author: Sean Blaise
Location: Les Saintes
Day 82, its hard to believe. As a new Sea|mester employee I think that I am in many ways feeling similar to the shipmates as our journey nears its end. In 8 days they will be parting ways, and returning to the real world. For me, it is, in the words of Shakespeare, going to be 'such sweet sorrow" to watch these students depart. While the end of a Sea|mester represents loss, it also frames the depth of accomplishment that these students have achieved.
Not only, have we crossed an entire ocean, nearly 6200 nm miles of it, but these students have formed relationships with 23 other strangers in doing so. They put aside personal differences, disparate backgrounds and ideals, and they pulled together for the common good of their fellow shipmate. On a small scale, they represented what is best about humanity.
Some of these relationships will be life long, others may be weathered by the smooth hands of time, but all will have mattered profoundly. All will have fundamentally affected each person that was involved in a positive way. It is the hope of this humble crew member that our Sea|mester 'moments" will live on forever, in the hallowed halls of memory.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two Stories from the Saints

Author: Chris Uyeda
Location: Les Saintes
Despite the fact that weve been in the Saints since Friday, today was our first day ashore. Which is an inconvenient coincidence for me, since it means that Im now responsible for answering the question: 'What are the Saints like?" This is no small task. For me, its a challenging question because (a) describing any place to someone who has never been is difficult and (b) I have very little information since I spent most of the day doing my taxes.
That said, Id like to share the following two stories that will hopefully help paint you a picture.
Early this morning, the science department (ie. yours truly and Beaker) jumped in the dinghy to go on our usual pre-breakfast run. Beaker is quite familiar with the island, so before we got to shore I asked for her advice on which way to head. I mentioned that I preferred the direction which would let me run the farthest and that I wouldnt mind a road that took me to the beach. Her response: 'You cant run too far here in any direction, and every road ends at the beach." So off I went. It wasnt long before I was on the top of the nearest hill, running past a fort that is probably older than America and enjoying the sun rise over the Caribbean Sea. But before I got there I had to make my way through the narrow streets of town. It was during this time that I attracted some attention. This isnt uncommon. I tend to get looks from the locals when running in foreign countries. But normally its because Im up at far too early an hour, being far too productive, in far too hot a climate. But this morning none of those distinctions held. I passed plenty of people who were up and moving about and the temperature was an inviting 75 degrees. Why then did I feel awkwardly self-conscious? Because I was the only one not carrying a handful of freshly baked baguettes.
Following my run, I returned to Argo and spent the rest of the day battling with my Form 1040. So, unfortunately, I have no more personal stories. I did, however, pick up this gem from Dwight Churchill, Ned King and Joe Spanier.
Apparently, this afternoon, while eating lunch ashore, the waitress of a particular beachside dining establishment gave Joe a mouthful when he attempted to order only desert. Never mind that Joe had just finished eating lunch at another restaurant, that he was simply meeting Dwight and Ned, or that he couldnt translate the expletives coming from this womans mouth. No. Apparently, to go into a French restaurant, with the intention of ordering anything less than the chicken filet in coconut cream sauce with a side of squash and fried plantains (thats what he got) is nothing short of a personal insult. Its also worth mentioning that even after Joe recovered from his faux pas, the waitress didnt warm up to them until Dwight ordered the coconut pie with vanilla ice cream (French vanilla, obviously) 'murdered" in chocolate sauce (Dwights quote). But harassment from the waiting staff aside, it was one of the most delicious meals theyve ever had. Now in the case that youre envisioning a 5-star dcor based on the quality of the meal and the high ordering standards, let me just share the following. First, the restaurant would be more fairly described as a shack with four walls. Second, it didnt have any doors. And third, the waitress wasnt wearing shoes.
Thats what the Saints are like.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

SLD Olympics

Author: Ned King
Location: Les Saintes
Today we were all faced with a challenge of competition, Argo knowledge, and tolerance for various physical handicaps in an event that can be described as nothing less than extraordinarily epic..... the SLD Olympics!
After moving Argo this morning from our dive site to the main anchorage not 10 minutes away, we were all called to muster in the cockpit with the only other instructions being "bring your PFD, and anything you think you might need..." leaving the details up to the imagination. Once all seated we were split up into either the Red Port Team or the Green Starboard Team. We were all given a specific handicap to make the scavenger hunt race a bit more interesting; some of us became deaf, others blind, mute, adjoined at the ankle or lost the use of an arm. The first event was called Hydration Station, followed by a hunt for a series of clues placed around the ship, each leading us to the next clue. It was a hectic hunt for clues and various items as the two teams raced past each other in the narrow hallways of Argo. Though no serious injuries occurred, a member for the green team jumped out of one of the dinghy's to help tow it around Argo, forgetting that his PFD would inflate once he jumped in, and two others wrestled over the inventory log to locate various items. After all the mayhem subsided, and both teams were once again back in the cockpit with their collection of canned goods, etc. we brought the battle to arena of intelligence and answered various trivia questions regarding Argo and general Sea|mester knowledge. This evening, after all the points were tallied up, I am proud to announce that the Green Starboard Team reigned awesomeness over the inferior Port side and dominated these SLD Olympics aboard Argo's Spring 2010 Sea|mester!!! It was a good day indeed, and although Starboard may have walked away clean, the Port side did not go down with out a fight.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Diving Galore

Author: Brian Snouffer
Location: Pain de Sucre, Les Saintes
Today was a fun filled day with all kinds of diving, but before that all students had to attend the last day of MTE class. This consisted of a review for our big navigation exam that is to happen on Day 82. Afterwards, students had the option to go on a fun dive or studious students stayed on the boat to study for the mad rush of exams and projects that our due in the next 5 days. Also, students on deck could entertain ourselves by watching the Dive Masters in training, Dwight and Marina, complete their swim test.
After lunch there was more diving to be had as the students trying to get their Advanced Open Water set out in buddy pairs and perform navigation tasks. This included calculating an average swim speed, navigating a line and finally navigating a square, which didnt always end up looking quite like a square.
Finally, the diving concluded in the evening with the second half of students getting their chance to take the plunge into the dark. And let me tell you. Joe was putting it lightly when he said night diving is 'pretty epic." I can honestly say it is one of the coolest things I have ever done and the only way for you to truly understand is to go night diving yourself.
After diving, students were split amongst a variety of activities which included studying, sleeping and my personal favorite, lying on deck looking at the stars.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Night Dive

Author: Joe Spanier
Location: Pain de Sucre, Les Saintes
Today we left the gorgeous island of Dominica and set sail for Pain de Sucre, an island in Les Saintes. Upon arrival we navigated our way through two towering islands to where our new home would be (our anchorage). This new anchorage entitled us to a new type of anchoring style called Mediterranean style docking/mooring, where we dropped the anchor off the boat as we backed up to the shore where we ran a stern line to the island and pulled tight. This would allow us to not go farther from the island or closer and would give us primo locations/safety spots for scuba diving. Once we where all secured the crew went into a little Boat Appreciation and started scrubbing and polishing Argo. Let me just say she looks mighty FINE!
This new location for us permitted us to do our first night dive off of Argo, which was pretty epic. Most of the students have barely ever dove before let alone diving at night. So the experience was very new and exciting for most of us. Half the students went tonight and the rest will continue to go tomorrow night due to the amount of flash lights and safety protocol. One of the coolest creatures that was spotted on the dive which was an Octopus, which excited shipmate Spike Stone, due to the fact that he has a sick (cool) tattoo of an Octopus on his torso. Well time for bed, since everyone is so tired from a full day of excitement.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An Educated Guess

Author: Gabriel Cohen
Location: Dominica
Today was our last day in the magical and absurd paradise-like island of Dominica. While in our previous two days here we had explored the wonders of the dark, moist, and sketchy jungle, today we reaped the plentiful ecotourism bounty of the surrounding sea. Indeed, today the crew of Argo was fortunate enough to go diving in Dominica. Why was this dive different from all other dives, you ask? Well, in the words of our own dive instructor, Jessica 'Beaker" Wurzbacher, it is the single greatest dive in the Caribbean. Perhaps the world. Maybe even the whole universe. We dont yet know what the diving is like on other planets, but based on this testimony, it probably isnt nearly as good as in Dominica. I would also bet that a dive shop on any of the moons of Saturn would be terribly overpriced, especially considering that there isnt any liquid water there.
But I digress, and in my digression, I digress even further into branching paths of self-perpetuating digression. Today, we dove the greatest of dives. Well, most of us did. I was one of the few who chose stay behind. I was slaving all day over a boiling hot practice chart, for in my exuberance for experiencing the other wonders we had travelled to, I neglected much of the work required to keep up my grades and get my captains license. And so I stayed behind while the others went and had their minds repeatedly blown asunder. Since I was not there, I can only make educated guesses as to what transpired. And so I will.
The first thing I assume ,the shipmates must have seen upon submerging was a small but organized army of squid. They were all swimming in formation, flashing different colors that can only be understood with the help of 3-D glasses. The local mermaids had constructed a magnificent castle, with coral-covered towers and archways. There was a parade all through the streets of the ocean pixie village, with a band of crabs that could only march sideways. They walked into several anemones, but the calypso music never stopped. All of the fish were wearing matching t-shirts, but no one could read them, as t-shirts dont fit fish very well at all. There was a single octopus selling popcorn and minestrone soup. Occasionally, the soup would get caught in an upwelling and float out of the pot, while the octopus scrambled to keep it all in one place. None of the Argonauts were able to taste the soup, as they were too busy breathing, but a local parrotfish said it was far too salty. Gangs of sea stars lurched around the reef, terrorizing hapless blennies with their obscene language and shocking yet slow aggression. Several humpback whales stopped by for coffee before returning to their long journey to nowhere. All of the turtles were swimming upside down.
This is probably what happened. Unless it didnt, in which case, never mind.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fruit Filled Day

Author: Spike Stone
Location: Dominica
After concluding a nocturnal exercise of sleep the crew of Argo was rousted at the bitter and unholy hour of 6 A.M. With bloodshot eyes and jerking zombie-like motion everyone oozed out of the midships companion way to immediately fall into the breakfast line. By the turn of the next hour dingy rides were well underway. Two vans met us on shore for a fruit focused tour. After a quick stop to procure fresh lunch bread we headed to the first destination. We arrived at what looked to be someone's backyard and out guides hopped out, ran into the jungle, and emerged with armfuls of exotic fruits. Between gorging ourselves on fruit we visited waterfalls and hot springs, swimming at every chance. Eventually we got back to Argo and ate dinner.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Boiling Lake

Author: Stefano Pagliai
Location: Dominica
We started our day at 6:45 with wake ups. As everyone got up to eat breakfast the plans for the day started to come out. Our goal was to hike to the boiling lake; its the only one in the world now, so it was an exciting thing. Cleanup went as usual and the dingy runs began as we loaded everyone and shipped each group after another to the docks. Our crew was a bit nervous for the hike, some say their legs still hurt from the hike a few days before; everybody got into two white vans and headed for the mountain. As we arrived you could smell the fresh air from the forest, the breeze blowing the leaves and the cool chill of the anticipating rain. As the group began the hike all you could think about was how sweaty you were and all the water droplets falling off your face. The hike began, as we started walking you thought to yourself this isnt that hard, we kept walking the sweat started to build and we kept walking. The slopes got steeper the solid ground changed colors from brown mud to a special orange yellow color. It felt as if you where walking up a 30 story building in New York City, the ones with steps and steps . The steps didnt stop you could be high up and continue to walk and they would start up again. As we reached one of the peaks all you could feel was the wind, the moist air and the smell of the sulfur vents that were at the bottom of the valley. Its was a special exercise that we all shared. Once at the bottom of the valley we found these warm hot spring pools where the temperature was as if boiling , you could shove your hands in the ground and feel the warmth. After the pools we carried on our hike back towards the bottom, we made the steep hike up the mountain that we had come down just hours previously, once we had reached the top it was the most refreshing feeling. Although the hike down felt much longer than the way up it was very calming making the hike down all you could hear was the wind blowing through the trees and the smell of the earth, I was quite rewarding.
Once we had reached the bottom it was still very hot so we went swimming in a waterfall and then made our way back to the vans to come home to our loving boat Argo. The day went on with shower time, followed by one of the best dinners I have tasted in a long time. The barbeque was out of this world. We ate dinner at the dive shop where they made a great barbeque chicken wings, ribs, potatoes bread salads and pasta salad, it was unreal. We finished the night with a couple of drinks.

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Day, New Country

Author: Dan
Location: Dominica
We awoke early this morning to extract our anchor out from underneath a French cruising boat in St. Pierre, once free we set the sails and made our way towards the jungle island of Dominica, a mere 35 nautical miles away. The passage was a quick beam reach, speeds were good and the sail was exhilarating and after an Oceanography class and lunch we were nearly there. On arrival the normal routine of a wash down and a bit of polishing and waxing led into shower time, delicious Cincinnati Chili, and a gorgeous sunset complete with a green flash. Now a Student Leadership Development class caps off the perfect day. Everyone is excited about the great adventures that await us here on the breathtakingly beautiful and mysterious island of Dominica.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hiking a Volcano

Author: Averill Morash
Location: Saint-Pierre, Martinique
Today we climbed into and out of a volcano that last exploded in 1902, destroying the town of St. Pierre, where we are currently anchored. It was an epic hike into and above the clouds, with spirit crushing sections and awe inspiring views when the mist cleared. At the summit, as we enjoyed our packed sandwiches and jungle energy bars (two each! Yay!), we could see Argo through the clouds, above which we were seated. On our way down the mist cleared and we could see what we had climbed as well as the ocean on both sides of the island. The majestic views helped the at times challenging terrain take our breaths away. It was a truly amazing hike and a great way to spend our morning.
Upon our return to the base we enjoyed some burgers, ice cream, and cold water from the restaurant before returning to our beloved Argo for some showers and sail preparation for we will be leaving this lovely island tomorrow morning. While here we got to explore the ruins of old St. Pierre, see the museum, hear about the one survivor of the eruption, sample classic French food like crepes and baguettes, hike into the caldera of a volcano and, of course, have some great times aboard our floating home, Argo.
Tonight, after a delicious dinner of pizza on French bread and some Ariana birthday cake we had a captivating OCE class full of chocolate cookies, candies and lots of laughter. Even with all the extra sugar most people have checked their anchor watch and moved off to bed, for it has been a long and exciting day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Carpe Diem

Author: Cayley Mackay
Location: Saint-Pierre, Martinique
And so began day seventy-two of our exploration of the world! It started with a simple breakfast followed by an OCE quiz and MTE class. After that we were given a free day to wander around the town. The small group I was with enjoyed the optional lunch ashore, delicious French crepes, and strolled through the small market where vendors sold everything from t-shirts and incense burners to exceptionally large bananas and handmade jewelery . We later made the short climb up to a set of ruins where we took pictures and listened to our voices echo across the ancient amphitheater. Quite possibly my favorite part of the day was when we decided to raid the small supermarket for baguettes, cheese, and apples then climbed up above the town to an old brick wall. We sat and looked out over the bay, food in hand, and it was an effortlessly perfect moment; one that many people search for. Our day came to a close with another beautiful Caribbean sunset and it, along with our adventures of the day, made me reflect on how content I am here. I can hardly believe that our time on Argo is coming to an end! I am trying to enjoy each moment of each day and truly 'Carpe Diem".

Friday, March 26, 2010


Author: Kira Benson
Location: Saint-Pierre, Martinique
Throughout the first 2/3s of this trip all of our passages have been at least a week, and some closer to 2 weeks. Now that we are approaching the end of this journey, our passages are only a little over 100nm, which translates to one night, and coming up we have a few that are only a few hours. Last night I fell asleep just after setting sails in Bequia (I can happily report that I can now haul away on the jib halyard all on my own!), woke up for watch at 3am to a brilliant view of St. Lucias skyline on our starboard side, the faint hue of lights off our bow, total darkness off our portside, Bequia nowhere to be seen off our stern, thousands of stars in the sky, and specks of bioluminescence in the ocean below us. This morning I woke up to the sounds of the anchor chain being lowered into the depths beneath us, realized it was my job to wake everyone up in the next five minutes, and clambered on deck to see what was going on. I looked around the deck to see watch team 3 tying down sails and putting the finishing touches on the anchor, briefly glanced at the small town on the French island of Martinique, and had my breathe completely taken away by the huge volcano that sat before my eyes. I excitedly went back down below and woke up sleeping shipmates as nicely as possible, while trying to contain my excitement caused by Mt. Pelee.
After a delicious lunch prepared by Ariana and Gabe, we dove right into a BA to rid Argo of the huge quantities of salt she acquired on our short passage. A few people went with Leah to do some provisioning, which resulted in some delicious looking baguettes that now sit teasingly in the saloon. Others polished, cleaned cabins, swept, and made Argo look like the beauty that she is. After a refreshing swim and shower, we had a unusual squeeze where everyone wrote down a secret on a piece of paper and put it in a bowl, then everyone had to pick piece of paper and read off the secret, of which nobody knew the answer. People are still trying to figure out which secret belonged to whom. Everyone enjoyed an amazing dinner of gumbo while watching another beautiful sunset across the ocean. We wrapped up the day with a brief SLD class and a Blue Planet: The Open Ocean.
Today was a day filled with hard work for the boat that has carried us a quarter of the way around the world. As our days on Argo are dwindling the crew is only growing closer. I feel we take more time to sit back and absorb all that has happened in the last 71 days and that will continue to happen for the next 19. We may be drawing to a close, but we still have about four more islands to explore, days of hiking and diving, and 27,360 minutes to embrace everything that is Sea|mester. This is Kira signing off on my last day as the skipper of Argo. Out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sea|mester Moment

Author: Stephanie Petter
Location: Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Today we had a free day to explore Bequia which has been one of my favorite islands that we have visited thus far. Some of us sought out the turtle sanctuary to hold baby sea turtles and Gabe, our turtle enthusiast, taught us that sea turtles actually enjoy having their shells rubbed. Others rented bikes to explore the island. Those that were lucky enough to rent bikes that didnt break after a few miles had a full day of biking around the island, making it to half moon hole, which are these stone houses built right into the cliffs and caves. A few of us, myself included, took a boat taxi out to the caves and were dropped off at a beach outside of town for a little rest and relaxation. At some point during the afternoon we all found ourselves caught in a rain storm but the fresh water rinse was a welcomed cool down from the Caribbean sun.
As this is my last skippers blog, I want to mention what my favorite part of today was. To everyone back home it may seem insignificant compared to the adventures we are having onshore and the amazing places weve been, but what struck me with great emotion today was a moment that you can only experience on Argo. As we were preparing to leave Bequia, I stood at the helm and in front of me 23 other people were working together in complete unison to prepare Argo for departure. Everyone knew exactly what lines to sweat and handle, to raise Argos anchor and sails and we got everything done that needed to be done in mere minutes as we all worked together for Argo. Ive found during the last 70 days, it is seemingly insignificant moments during the day when everyone is together and working hard that blow me away.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Certified Divers

Author: Jessica (Beaker) Wurzbacher
Location: Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Today was the culmination of our scuba diving certification course. All teams successfully completed the fourth and final dive to attain their PADI Open Water certification. We now have a fleet of streamlined, neutrally buoyant underwater explorers.
The dive today was on a tug boat wreck, it was teeming with life, schools of fish hovered over its deck, spiny head blennies found homes in the hull and garden eels poked inquisitively out of the sandy bottom.
While not diving the shipmates continued their above water exploration of the lovely island of Bequia. A team of joggers joined me this morning for a run up Mt Pleasant, which was so steep it ended up being not too Pleasant. Another highlight of the day were the goodies picked up at the Gingerbread, a delicious bakery overlooking the bay.
Another great day on Argo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Caribbean Adventures

Author: Annie Rae
Location: Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Today was our first full day on the beautifully quaint island of Bequia. Bequia is small, and covered in trees, with idyllic houses sprawled across its hilly terrain. The waters are crystal clear, and Argo is anchored less than 100 ft. from coral reefs that are teeming with life of all sorts. This is certainly a paradise that everyone aboard has come to appreciate after only one day. With rescue diving and open water certifications to be completed, our time was divided between dives on the reef and opportunities to go ashore and explore the small waterfront town. Bequias shops offer some of the most ornate and unique souvenirs of any place we have yet visited, and energy aboard was high as excited crew members came off the tenders chatting animatedly of what they saw either on land or under the water. In the afternoon, seven brave souls strapped on theirs fins and their masks and scrubbed Argos waterline, a favor she, as well as our captain, very much appreciated. After dinner the crew headed down to the salon for a student leadership presentation on percussion beats, which was taught by Gabe (also known as Beat Master Fresh), and finally an MTE class. Its early to bed tonight after such a full day and each crew member certainly awaits tomorrows wake up call for another day on this magical island.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Welcome to Bequia

Author: Marina Knapp
Location: Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
We woke this morning to blue skies and open seas as we were still underway to Bequia. It was nice to have another night at sea with the waves rocking Argo as we slept. After lunch we had double science classes with and OCB coral reef lecture followed by an OCE debate on aquaculture versus fisheries. As classes came to an end we noticed Argo had stopped pitching from side to side which we assumed meant we were ready to anchor. Sure enough when we walked up on deck we were greeted by the island of Bequia. Before anchoring, however, we tacked around the bay for a little bit more to practice handling the sails. Once anchored we assumed our normal custom of giving Argo a loving scrub and thorough BA which was followed by an awesome dinner of chili. After dinner we headed into shore for our first steps on Bequia and a night out.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Last Day in Barbados

Author: Elise Huebner
Location: Barbados
Tonight we are departing Barbados for Bequia, a small island about 150 nautical miles west. Today we had an entire day to ourselves to explore Barbados. Some of us went deep sea fishing, while others explored the beaches on other parts of the island. However, it was not a full day of rest - we also did a large provisioning, and filled seven grocery carts to the brim. Additionally, PSCT students took one of their major exams this afternoon tides and currents. It was almost strange to have a day with out diving we have all been working hard on earning our certifications for the last few days. We are all excited to be under way again, even for just a short time. It will be interesting to wake up to a new island, especially one with such a unique culture. Bequia is the only place in the world where whaling is legal, and it is only done from sailing vessels. Cant wait to get there!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One Caribbean Island Down

Author: Leah Shopneck
Location: Barbados
We have only been in the Caribbean for less than five days and so far it has provided us with endless amounts of opportunities and entertainment. As diver training continues our Open Water students are quickly moving on to deeper and longer dives, the Rescue Divers have reached the point where they are patiently awaiting surprise rescue situations and the Divemasters are busy pumping tanks, exchanging gear while buddy breathing and helping those new to the art of the underwater world. On shore the crew has begun exploring every nook and cranny of Barbados. Early morning trips to places on the other side of the island are not uncommon. Taxis are constantly shuttling Argonauts to inland caves, beaches thought to only exist in magazines, and boats bound for fishing expeditions. Just last night, Ariana offered those that were interested the chance to join her in attending a local Jewish Synagogue for Friday night service. A new cultural experience for most.
Between diving and shore exploration, people have also managed to find time to learn how to drive our trusty dinghy, Boonrod. Each day a few very eager shipmates hop into the dinghy and are taught all the basics of driving and docking one of Argo's tenders. Now as our number of eligible drivers quickly increases, the staff look forward to handing off the responsibility of dinghy runs to shore and maybe even spending a little less time contemplating whether foul weather gear is necessary for that noon pickup.
In just 24 hours we will be saying farewell to the island of Barbados and moving on to our next Caribbean Island, Bequia, which promises to provide us with just as many new adventures.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Author: Cammie Burke
Location: Barbados
Now that we have been in Barbados a few days it is starting to feel like home at our anchorage. The Barbadian people are friendly, the beaches are beautiful, and now that we are diving the aquatic life is amazing. Today was another great day; it was spent wandering around the charming town of Bridgetown, diving, dinghy training and relaxing. The open water divers got to go on our first real dive today which was extremely exciting. We got to dive on a wreck which was totally surreal, the area was filled with colorful fish and corals and a huge sunken ship! The rescue divers continued their training today, and came back to the Argo with nothing but smiles and funny stories. There was an opportunity to be dinghy trained today which most of the Argo crew signed right up for and later was followed by ocean showers and a scrumptious dinner. Everyday here on Argo is unique, fun and surprising and I cant wait to see what Barbados has in store for us tomorrow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flowing Bubbles

Author: Kevin Johnsen
Location: Barbados
Lets go blow some bubbles! Yesterday, many of the crew took their first breaths under water. They must have liked it because this morning before breakfast was served both dinghies were launched and the first groups gear all set up ready for round two, the second half of confined water and more rescue diving. I share their enthusiasm for being back swimming in the warm Caribbean clear waters. Something about the Caribbean is so welcoming. Maybe it's the clear waters and white sandy beaches, or maybe the laid back open lifestyle of the local people. Whatever it is the energy of Barbados and the Caribbean has taken over the crew of Argo with good vibrations. Whether it's after blowing bubbles or exploring the island each day they return with new exciting stories of their adventures.
After 60 some days and 5600 nm traveled island hoping through the Caribbean is just what the crew of Argo needs. They are all salty sailors with many more miles in their wake than most. Crossed an ocean, explored two continents and have become closer to each other than many of their longest childhood friends. That is one of the treasures of going to sea for long periods of time. The extended alone time in our little world of Argo gets people talking and opening up to each other in a way that would take years on shore. Seeing this crew come as close to each other as they have has been a special treat and reminder that we are doing something very right out here. Now with less than 300 nm miles to go (a blink of an eye for this crew) we have more stops planned than we have visited the entire trip up to date. A bit crammed in at the end but essential for the growth of the crew as one solid working unit. Let the romp through the Caribbean commence!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day, Barbados

Author: Ariana Tobias
Location: Barbados
FINALLY! That was the word echoing from Argo today as we wriggled into our wetsuits, strapped on our tanks, adjusted our masks, and took our first underwater breaths of the trip. For some of us, it was our very first time scuba diving. For others, it was a long-awaited return to the weightless world of the water. Being a proud (and slightly nervous) member of the former group, I soon realized we were in the most capable of hands. Divided into groups led by staff instructors Beaks and Chris and shipmate Divemasters Marina and Dwight, we learned how to set up our gear, get it on and off, breathe from a buddys tank, clear our masks underwater, and many other skills that will serve us well as we start doing more diving during this last month of the trip.
We also had some shore time to explore the Barbadian waterfront and Bridgetown, the capitol of Barbados. After this most recent passage and our brief stop at the tiny Isle de Salut, it was almost shocking to be around crowds of people again. The bustling city was quite a change from our floating family of 24, but Im sure over the next four days well readjust to civilization and eagerly take advantage of all the opportunities Barbados has to offer. Going deep sea fishing, visiting a religious service, playing video games at the arcadethe excited chatter Ive heard flying around the boat about the possibilities here is endless. Right now, were heading out to check out the nightlife in Barbados, and looking forward to more diving and shore time again tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Author: Catherine Buckley
Location: Barbados
Today was a say of surprises. We awoke just before 7 for an entertaining arrival to Barbados, just 300 miles from our final destination, Antigua. All hands on deck, ready to dock Argo and clear customs. After very successfully docking, the crew began boat appreciation, but this time it was lead almost entirely by the crew for the first time. Once the sails were flaked, the deck washed and the galley and salon spotless, we moved out to a lovely harbor where we dropped anchor. Cozy in our new home, we sat down to enjoy a delicious lunch of tortilla wraps and fruit, delicious! Following lunch we did a final deck wash, and free time then ensured! Some swam while others of us began pulling out scuba tanks and gear to ready ourselves for the four full days of diving we have planned. After that, we all just relaxed and swam until the sun started to set with yet another BEAUTIFUL Caribbean sunset. Dinner time, and as always we gathered in the cockpit for an especially emotional squeeze and another great dinner in the wonderful company of the crew of Argo. Today, though seemingly unremarkable, is a day that I will remember forever, it was so perfectly Sea|mester.

Monday, March 15, 2010

5700 Nautical Miles Done

Author: Dwight Churchill
Location: Underway to Barbados in the Atlantic Ocean
As Im writing this we have made 5700 miles aboard Argo, crossed the Atlantic, and had our feet on land, on five separate occasions. It is day 60 of our voyage, meaning only 30 remain. We are soon entering Caribbean waters, meaning passages will shorten dramatically, itll be different then what weve been used to, instead of more than a week at sea they will be less than a days sail. We have a month left, yet only about 300 miles to Antigua. While all of this seems sad to most onboard, there is so much to experience in these beautiful waters. Diving will begin and for half of this ships crew, that are getting their first certifications, that means their first time breathing underwater and opening up endless possibilities. I cannot wait to see their faces after. Seeing a person discover an entirely new world, that for most goes unnoticed, is something I treasure. These last 30 days will fly by, Im sure, but Im excited as ever and cannot wait.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

End of Passage and New Adventures Ahead

Author: Jason Dominick Chodakowski
Location: Underway to Barbados in the Atlantic Ocean
Today marks a very bittersweet day for two reasons. It is perhaps the last day of our last major passage, Barbados being only a day away. After making landfall there, passages will be no more than a day long, and island-hopping throughout the Caribbean will characterize the rest of our voyage. We are all excited about our last month, since it will be full of diving and unique experiences. Yet we have to say goodbye to long passages, continuous watch rotations, and life at sea surrounded by emptiness. This change comes with the second reason for why today is bittersweet, and that is that last night while starring up at the sky during watch I saw for the first time Polaris, the north star. I don't think I could have found a better herald for the beginning of the last third of our trip. I am happy and proud at how far we have come, and though I know I will long for the openness of the sea I am excited for the adventures ahead.

Mar 14 Argo Update

Jason updates progress

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Glowing Dolphins

Author: Sean Blaise
Location: Underway to Barbados in the Atlantic Ocean
There come days in every persons life that are quite simply, perfect. Our night watch from 8 to 12 last night was one such occasion. As a professional mariner, I have stood hundreds if not a thousand watches, and there have been many watches in that time period of note. But last night took the cake. We saw glowing dolphins!!! This wasnt some horrible irradiated byproduct of nuclear waste but was due to thousands of tiny bioluminescent plankton, that when disturbed give off the same eerie green light that you find so often in your expensive watch hands so that you can read it at night. This pod of dolphins discovered that if they rode the bow wave of Argo not only were they getting a free ride to surf and play, but they easily picked off the dazed and confused little fish that scattered in front of the bow wave. The dolphins would shoot in and out of the bow wake as they chased fish, and like glowing green torpedoes we watched with fascination their every movement. They look liked green wraiths, with long comet style tails of glowing luminescence flowing behind each individual dolphin. When the dolphins accelerated after a fish, their tails would explode in bright light as the plankton roared their disapproval at being disturbed yet again. It was a stellar and gorgeous ballet of symmetry of movement and agility. Quite simply, it was one of those perfect moments that make you stop and take stock, jaw agape in awe at natures magnificence, your own insignificance, and the meaning of being happy. I have concluded that to me, being happy, is to obtain absolute contentment in a moment, however fleeting, a moment, in which, the past and the future cease to exist, and only the present matters. I had that moment last night, and had I been alone it would have been amazing. But sharing it with special people made it, unforgettable.

Mar 13 Argo Update

Day 58 update

Friday, March 12, 2010

A New Passage

Author: Chris Uyeda
Location: Underway to Barbados in the Atlantic Ocean
As of 1000 this morning we were underway to Barbados. The passage is approximately 630 nautical miles and estimated to take four days. Relative to the rest of our passages, this ones a baby. It also differs in a number of other ways. First, its the calmest passage weve been on in a while. Our last passage from Fortaleza to Isle de Salut was particularly rough, comparable to the experience of your typical garment in the drying machine. Today, however, our tilt is averaging less than 10 degrees. Weve been in anchorages that were worse than that. Second, the color of the water. If, when you imagine your children on Argo, you envision them sailing on gin clear water, normally youd be right. Today, however, its closer to chocolate milk. Two factors are responsible. First, were located between two of the largest river systems in South America, the Amazon to our south and the Orinoco to our north. Its also incredibly shallow. Right now were 30 miles offshore and the water is only 120 feet deep. Again, weve been in anchorages deeper than that. Combine the influences of these two and its no wonder that water visibility is less than a foot and the color of dirty dish water. The third distinction has everything to do with the Guiana Current. Look at any chart for this part of the world and you will notice that each devotes a small section to a discussion on the Guiana Current. Prudent mariners who read these notes would know that the current travels in a northwesterly direction at 1-4 knots. This is described in nautical terms as not slow. Luckily, its traveling in the same direction as us and aids our progress towards Barbados. So much so, that we actually have to worry about going too fast. In previous passages weve done everything we could just to make 6 knots. Today were actively working to make less than 9. The point here, if there is one, is how diverse our experience is. Thus far on this trip weve sailed over 5000 nautical miles. Weve spent 30 days, a whole month, at sea. And despite all that time on the ocean we still get passages that surprise us.

Mar 12 Argo Update

Chris Uyeda Update!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Devil's Island

Author: Ned King
Location: Isle de Salut, French Guiana
Early yesterday morning Argo sailed up to the small chain of islands known as Isle du Salut and dropped anchor. These palm tree laden islands were an old small penal colony during the French Revolution. During our day of exploration many shipmates found themselves walking a trail around the island, smashing coconuts on rocks for their meat, tossing around a Frisbee, and relaxing at the only restaurant on the island as they studied for their OCE midterm today. It was difficult keeping the island fresh as we quickly exhausted all there was to be done, but in doing so, found a good amount of time to just relax from the demands of being on watch and life underway. When Argo visits a new place, we dont just go as any normal tourist; we see places in a unique fashion that encompasses everything one can possibly do there. From going on a mission to crack a coconut and savor the delicious reward inside to napping on the off-trial rock face shore of the island, we do it all, and in that way today was a success.

Mar 11 Argo Update

Fantastic shore time!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bonjour, Je m'appelle Argo

Author: Brian Snouffer
Location: Isle de Salut, French Guiana
Early this morning we were still sailing with the strong current and wind. We were on a course passing the island chain to kill time so that we could anchor safely at first light because Isle de Salut is surrounded by the same strong currents that we are using. This is one reason the islands were used as a penal colony. Around 0230 we jibbed and headed back towards the islands. Our friendly current was now working vigorously against us and, oh, did we underestimate her strength. After the jibe, Argo was struggling mightily through crashing waves over the bow and heading upwind. We were just creeping along, barely managing even one knot. Although, the way we were getting soaked and thrown around would have made one assume we were breaking speed records. Thus we were forced to commit great sin and awake the powerful, noisy and dirty beast in Argos belly, the engine. Even then, the current was holding us back, allowing us only four knots. After a cold and wet early morning, the starboard anchor rattled down to the bottom of the sea. Everyone who woke for watch was greeted for breakfast by a view of two luscious and vibrantly green small islands. One can count the number of buildings on both islands with just two hands and possibly a foot if there happen to be some hidden on the other side. The day was spent darkening the bronze, but there was no lying on the beach. We tanned our backs as we cleaned the salt off Argos hulls, busted rust that is constantly battling for territory and made her shine. After boat appreciation, free time was granted that many people used as time to relax, though a few ambitious folk tried to get ahead in some homework. Finally, the day was capped off with a scrumptious dinner tag teamed by our chefs from south the Mason Dixon, Steph and Cat. On the menu was stuffed green peppers with a side sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Yes, your eyes did not deceive you. That says marshmallows. Go back and reread it yourself if you dont believe me. And, as an added surprise we got dessert, as if marshmallows werent enough. Once again fruit going bad has been turned into an amazing and unexpected dish. This time the culprit was apples and Annie turned them into the perfect apple crumble to top off the day. Tomorrow we will be going ashore for the day and apparently will be able to see the entire island in that time.

Mar 10 Argo Update

Argo arrives Devils Island

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Approaching Devil's Island

Author: Joe Spanier
Location: Underway to Isle de Salut in the Atlantic Ocean
Once again today was a pretty typical Sea|mester passage day underway. We woke up this morning from the water color being blue to a greenish color which told us we were closer to Isle de Salut, an island chain a few miles off the coast of French Guiana. We started the afternoon off with a lunch full of sandwiches and fresh baked bread from Mr. Chris Uyeda. After lunch we had an MTE class where we learned how to plot course directions on water charts. Once class was over the PSCT students rolled into a class, which involved learning how to graph tides and currents so that we can determine at which depth the water will be at, at any given time during the day for an exact location. Once the students where done with the graphing they finished the class off with a COLREGS quiz on sounds. The rest of the day went as normal with dinner and watch teams. The watch teams need to be especially alert tonight since we will be approaching the island late at night/early morning, for fishing vessels and any other obstructions in our way. I am very confident in the performance of our crew and that our next island approach and anchorage job will be a success.

Mar 9 Argo Update

Joe calls in for Day 54

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Soggy Suspicion

Author: Gabe Cohen
Location: Underway to Isle de Salut in the Atlantic Ocean
I have become convinced that the ocean is trying to mess with us. I will present what evidence I have gathered:
-Our route across the Atlantic was well known for its consistent and dependable southeasterly trade winds
-We experienced no such winds, and were becalmed for over half the crossing
-We are now in the Doldrums, a region notorious for its light, sporadic winds and calm, friendly seas
-We have been consistently going 7-10 knots ever since entering these so-called Doldrums
-The recent weather has been rougher than any weve seen so far. There are waves constantly crashing over our bow, spectrally illuminated by our running lights, drenching any hapless shipmates who dare to sit forward of the beam. The winds were so intense last night that we dropped our main, just to be safe.

Whatever is going on here cant just be a coincidence. Ill be sleeping with one eye open from now on to keep tabs on the ocean.

Mar 8 Argo Update

Argo nears Devil's Island

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Just Another Day at Sea

Author: Spike Stone
Location: Underway to Isle de Salut in the Atlantic Ocean
Today was engulfted by thick cloud cover which, unfortunately, did little to mitigate the equatorial heat. The watch schedule pushed on per usual as dreary-eyed individuals rose and fell from deep sleeps. Argos deck was consistently littered with freshly shaved pale skulls. By lunch two more had joined the ranks of the slick-domed shellbacks, one head I had the pleasure of shaving with thick, victorious lightning bolts accenting the back. Few things in this world are more intimidating than a hardened sailing student sporting cranial lightening bolts. The cacophony of post lunch madness was split up by Marine Bio and MTE class with showers following. Hours later clean up ensued after another most satisfying dinner.

Mar 7 Argo Update

Day 52 Update by Leah

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In the Northern Hemisphere

Author: Stefano Pagliai
Location: Underway to Isle de Salut in the Atlantic Ocean
I awoke this morning to the fresh smell of salt water blowing off the ocean currents. Last night we crossed the equator celebrating with a ceremony for the crew. A few people participated in the crossing ritual of shaving their heads, doing away with their long locks of hair, giving it to the ocean as a gift. It was a lot of fun, everyone gathered around to see hair being chopped off.
After the hairs where chopped we all had OCE and PSCT class and had loads of fun learning about weather patterns. Every day has been a new adventure for me aboard Argo I learn more and more each day.
Hope I keep learning
This is the skipper, out.