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Day 40 – “Onward to Agadir!”

Oct 24, 2016

Location: Marina Smir
Author: Stephen. N
Yesterday was pretty hectic. Everyone is a tad under-slept, and lingering midterm papers are being hurled at us, clinging like angry squid. The bustling Medina of Tetouan was so different from what we’ve been experiencing, definitely a lot to observe and digest. I believe “culture shock” is the term. The rapidly spreading ink blot of Western Culture hasn’t done much to Tetouan beyond staining the surface. Coca Cola signs hang in kiosk openings, merchants shout “hey, man!” to get attention from tourists, and the bright red of empty Marlboro packs along the walkways reminds you that Western Culture has made its way there, but beneath the stained cover page, the old culture of Morocco is alive and well. The way of life is completely alien to Western Eyes. People live in tunnel-like complexes, work all day in shops (that were probably built long before America was even colonized by Europeans) the size of refrigerator boxes, hand-cutting and stitching leather from the tannery next door to make ends meet. If you want a chicken to eat, you walk two minutes to the chicken shop and pick one to have killed. Tetouan felt more authentic than the other places we’ve explored in that way. It was also slightly uncanny to witness artifacts of Western Culture in a place so detached from it. Generally, it was a draining day, in the most profound, positive sense of the word. Thus, a day like today was much needed. We didn’t do much; we hung around Argo all day, we wrote our essays and had our classes, and it kind of felt like being underway while at dock. A scrappy street creature (a dog) attempted to make friends with us before the harbor master chased it off, and many people were assailed by feral cat families while writing their essays at cafes. This pleased me a great deal. Tomorrow, we set sail for Agadir to witness many wonders, such as the Grand Bazaar! Apparently the passages are getting longer now, and I for one am super ready. Things feel so real underway. Time flies. Wow. It’s almost Halloween. Last year at Almost-Halloween, I was in a dorm room, probably trying to sleep through my roommates 24-hour ritualistic watching of the show Sons of Anarchy at seismic levels of volume. I was probably bored. I actually just laughed imagining how I’d react back then if then if I knew that in 365 days, I’d be here in Morocco typing a blog, and about to run up on deck to help stow some dock-lines in. It’s easy to get overwhelmed on Argo and take things as they come; allow yourself to lose track of time, and kind of prevent yourself from allowing the surreality of this journey to sink in. When you’re made aware of it through reflection, it can be kind of scary. We’re doing something truly incredible out here, something we’ll never forget. At this point, it’s hard to imagine leaving Argo and never coming back. The memories being formed are just too crazy. Well, bye-bye for now. If you’re reading this and have used a toilet with a standard flush-mechanism today, please open the tank and say “thank you” to the mechanism for me. You never really know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.
– Stephen
Another Sail

Oct 24, 2016

Location: Petit Piton Point, St. Lucia
Author: Roger. L
Early wake up today at 6 am. Went underway putting our Navigation knowledge to the test, planning our sail and finding our headings. The mountain we climbed the day before slowly disappeared behind us. Beautiful blue sky dotted with white and black clouds. It rained on and off through out the sail. We motor sailed a lot today due to the fact that the wind shifted causing us to sail into the wind. Watch teams went were on deck for two hour increments, those not on watch studied for the upcoming exam tomorrow morning. Along the way a pod of dolphins greeted us as we arrived in Saint Lucia. There was an attempt to use a hydrophone to listen to dolphins but the engine was to loud. We picked up a mooring ball next to a mountain called Petit Piton. It is something out of Jurassic Park. We are all half expecting to see dinosaurs on the shore.

Day 39 – “Our first Bazaar”

Oct 23, 2016

Location: Marina Smir, Morocco
Author: George. E
Today we spent our first full day in the country of Morocco. We went on a fun little adventure into the town of Tetouan, where we were given a very in depth and hands-on guided tour through all of the different aspects of the town. The guide started by bringing us through old town, where we got to witness the early morning routines of residents getting ready for their daily activities. The market was where most families would go to get their breakfast, and the stables were where the town kept all of their “taxis” also known as donkeys. We were able to learn a great deal of history about the city. From that point we were given a very nice tour of the facilities where they worked with animal hides in the tanning district, it was really quite a sight to see how they produced all of their leather by hand for the leather crafts we saw later in the markets. We really learned a lot about the craft and how to make leather with all of the different pits. From there our guide brought us to our first experience with a Moroccan Bazaar where we all got to test our haggling skills with the Moroccan rug dealers, it was a great deal of fun negotiating prices, though I don’t think anyone really expected what those clever dealers could get away with. After having so much fun seeing how many rugs we could all buy, we went for a traditional Moroccan lunch at one of the tour guides friends restaurant. We had a very nice lunch of chicken and cous cous while watching and listening to traditional entertainment. After lunch, our guide showed us how homes are posted for rent or sale and how prospective buyers or renters can find and sign to publicly seal their agreement. We all signed up for time share agreements (Blogger’s note – This was an attempt at humor) and then our guide brought us to another market where we given a lesson on the essential oils and spices of the region and then an opportunity to purchase some of those for home as well. After we all settled up on our purchases and finished exploring one more street of shops, we made our way back to Argo after an exciting and history-filled trip into town.
Life Is Like A Box Of Cupcakes….

Oct 23, 2016

Location: Young Island, St. Vincent
Author: Smudge
This morning the soothing vibes of Ben Howard echoed through the saloon, but at this stage of the trip almost everyone is up before wake up at our regular 7am alarm call. You learn to live with the Caribbean; a persistent near 6am year-round sunrise is the light and warmth that is better than any watch or other device at regulating your wake up time. It is one of my favorite times of the day in the islands, as occasionally shore side roosters alert you to the cool fresh air, calm waters, and some of the most polite morning people in the world. I understand and enjoy why we lose grasp of our lazy sleep-ins of the now much darker northern latitudes.
It was a quick turn around at breakfast as one of those wonderful morning people, Jimmy, was waiting for us ashore to taxi us to our latest hiking adventure up to the crater of the active volcano on the island. The volcanic Caribbean produces so many wonders that we just could not tear ourselves away, leaving us to a late, late lunch at 2pm when we finally made it back onboard. What was left of the afternoon was utilized for study or recuperation and for me as vessel master to head to customs and immigration to fulfill all the formalities of heading to a different territory tomorrow. Young Island is spectacular and Peter, Stephanie, Wallace, Josh, Roger, Tommy and myself climbed up its 250 steps to the rocky outcrop laden with multiple historic cannons and more volcanic geology. Our destination tomorrow of St. Lucia’s Pitons, hot springs and botanical garden will certainly open everyone’s eyes to new wonders of our world. However, for now the only thing that everyone was wide-eyed for were dessert cupcakes and donuts that I landed on the dinner table. I guess those ‘formalities’ I have to fulfill sometimes bring a bounty of goodies back to the boat.

Day 38 – “A New Continent”

Oct 22, 2016

Location: Marina Smir, Morocco
Author: Caroline. W
Today we entered a new continent, Africa, and we entered the country of Morocco in a small city known as Marina Smir. The marina was built into a stand alone city away from the main cities, so that yachts could have a quiet place to tie up. It is beautiful here!! Everyone is so excited! I am stoked, I have never been to Africa and it has been the number one place on my bucket list for quite some time now. A lot of people are very tired however, including me, so excuse my writing skills this evening please. A few people are also a but sick with a cold, but our medical staff Ian and Tina, are getting people back into full gear. This morning was our last day in Gibraltar. We just did passage prep and then set sail for Marina Smir. It was a slow day, we just had rotating hour watches throughout the day with PSCT class and Oceanography after lunch. We left Gibraltar at 10 A.M and navigated through some thick fog, and we arrived at Marina Smir around 4 P.M. We have another Oceanography class after dinner and then some shore time. No big news really, although I know tomorrow we have an exciting long day planned in a cool town south of where we are staying. I believe we are leaving Marina Smir either Monday or Tuesday for Agadir. I feel personally that I am getting used to life on this boat, which is good since I did not have any boating experience prior to this trip. I am learning something new everyday and I feel like I am getting a lot out of this trip. I am very lucky to be here and this is a tremendous growing experience. Our Atlantic crossing is coming up starting November 11!
~ Caroline 🙂