Location: Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
We coordinated and accomplished a final student-led passage today, thus completing our 6190 nautical mile voyage from Cape Town, SA, to Antigua. We took our final underway naps and ate lots of underway snacks and begged (the student engine team this time) for some underway air conditioning for the last time. After sailing off anchor, sailing through a small rainstorm, and watching a few breaching whales, we unclipped our PFDs for (almost) a final time with a mix of exhaustion and sentiment – or “senti” as Riley would say (and has been all evening). It seems almost miraculous that we managed to guide Argo all the way here with a boat full of 27 sailing noobs and a mere handful of sailing wizzes. We managed to sail through the Caribbean looking like we might have operated a sailboat before, and I think that’s made us all quite proud, so here are some pointers for how to survive a 6190 nm voyage on a sailing yacht full of noobs:
Snacks are quite literally the life force of argonauts at this point. It’s very important to have a good combination of salty and sweet and crunchy and chewy to satiate your every craving. You will also need the largest jar of peanut butter you can find. You may think that kind of big jar that would normally last you two weeks is big enough. Wrong. Get a bigger one and a private PFD spoon to go along with it.
2. How to Sleep
This may seem like something you learned at a young age, but adaptation is necessary aboard a crowded sailing yacht crossing an ocean. The key is being able to fall asleep as fast as humanly possible to maximize your sleeping time. (This gets easy with exhaustion.) You also need to learn to be a heavy sleeper to avoid waking up at every watch change or to a phone alarm that might go off in the salon every 30 minutes, depending on where your shipmates are sleeping. Most importantly, you have to ensure that you won’t go flying out of your bunk. Always tie up your lee cloth to catch you, no matter how confident you may be in your braced sleeping position. You never know when a rogue wave may launch you all the way into the galley or all the way to the chart house floor from your three stacks.
3. Remain Calm
Really anything can happen on a trip like this, so you have to be prepared for everything and kind of receive it with an “ah yes, of course.” For example, in the event that you crash jibe in the middle of the ocean and snap your main boom in half in the dark, resist the urge to panic and spread the word to abandon ship. Just go back to sleep because we’re trying to maximize sleep time here – don’t forget.
This is where you need to start getting creative because there are only so many books in the library, but it’s not difficult because everything is funny after a few days at sea. Get competitive with stealthily clipping your shipmates with clothespins. Pile onions in random people’s bunks. Try playing catch with potatoes. Super intense thumb war tournaments are always a yes. In moments of silence, go with the “what if I was a…” game, in which you pick an animal and absolutely commit to imitating it. (For safety reasons, be sure you’re not too close to the cap rail if it’s something dramatic.) There are never too many backies and dives to throw off of the bowsprit at anchor, which is also a good time to practice monkeying the dolphin striker. And never pass up the opportunity to middle-of-the-ocean scream.
5. Positive! Attitude!
Some day to day things may seem like a chore aboard Argo, but it’s easy to but a positive spin on things. Pumping the head 50 times? Bonus arm workout! Cheffing trapped down below for 4 hours of your day? Free snacks! Falling on your butt might not have felt great, but at least it was funny. Waking up in the middle of the night for watch means you get to see some killer stars. It’s important to stay positive because despite the amusing struggles of life aboard Argo, it is still in all seriousness the absolute time of your life, and you are, in fact, sailing across an ocean on a majestic sailing yacht with 31 of your new closest friends. And that’s pretty okay if you ask any of us.
P.S. thank you, Ginny, for being born so we could have a tasty dessert. Happy birthday and we love you.