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The Passage Prep Tango

Feb 21, 2011


Location: Chatham Bay, Union Island
Author: Leah Shopneck
It has been 32 days since Argo’s crew arrived in Antigua unknowing but more than ready to learn and experience. Similar to learning a style of dance, boat life is an art with its own special technique. It’s is truly amazing to watch as the newly acquired skills are learned and mastered, from cooking in a galley that is constantly swaying to launching a dinghy in a split second to recover a practiced man overboard situation. As Argo and her crew are always on the move in search of a new adventure, Argo is perpetually making the transition from camp Argo anchored off of paradise to sailing school ship breaking through the waves of the Caribbean Sea and back to camp Argo. In the beginning when one heard the phrase passage prep echoing down below, the crew scrambled up on deck to learn how to prepare the boat to sail. An hour and a half after the first jack line was run or the first sheet was coiled down to the deck, Argo was ready to be underway, making way. Now weeks later the crew hardly has to look at the checklist being carried around by the skipper to know what has to be done. It now looks more like a well practiced dance. A well rehearsed group of six quickly store all the dive tanks and dive gear in the laz, tying slippery clove hitches with the speed in which you assume they must practice the knot in their sleep. Dinghies are brought up on deck and placed ever so gently in their chalks, before being secured to the deck. At the same time two others run the jack lines from fore to aft, so that if the Caribbean Seas decide to make the trip all the more rolly and interesting we can still remain attached to our beloved ship as we walk the deck. Halyards are shackled back onto the heads of the sails, in preparation for the helm’s person to give us the thumbs up upon departure so the sails alone can take us to our next destination. If one takes a step back and watches the crew prepare for passage, you would think this crew of 27 had been doing this for months if not years, and we still have another eights weeks to go to further perfect the passage prep tango.