Location: Friwin, Raja Ampat

Hello all, Hu here!

Day 40, and this is the first time that I can address you all as skipper! Today started a little bit earlier for a few staff members as we helped Gordon with one of his divemaster requirements. Lolo, Sydnei, and I were all skin diver students as he taught us the course and put up with our shenanigans- all under the watchful eye of our divemaster coordinator Amanda C. I then went down below to wake everyone else at the usual 7 am. Music didn’t seem to do the trick for some sleepy heads this morning, so I had to break out a beachball to help with the wake-ups. Once everyone was up on deck, our head chef Vivian introduced our delicious breakfast of chia seed pudding and toppings. After breakfast and clean-up, the students had marine biology with Carolyn in the salon with some nice A/C. After class, our first dive group loaded into the dinghies to experience the best coral we have seen on this trip so far! (and that is saying something!) Our first dive group included; Chris, Jack, Chloe, Will, Zack, Justin, and Matt- all led by Carolyn and Amanda C. (with Gabe and I sitting surface). Lunch was an amazing pasta salad, again made by Vivian and her sous chefs, Whitney and Emma. With full stomachs, our second dive group headed out to the mind-blowing reef. This group included; D, Navarre, Sid, Margo, Rykleigh, Carly, and Vivian- led by Tim and Lolo (Amanda C. and Syndei sitting surface watching their bubbles). After this group returned, the third and final group loaded into the dinghies to see for themselves what all the hype was about. This group included; Ian, Bo, Whitney, Amelia, Lucia, Gordon, and Grace- led by Gabe and Sydnei (Lolo and Carolyn watching their bubbles while I snorkeled close by).

Additionally, even faced with ear infections, Emma and Kayli got to experience the reef just as much as the divers’ thanks to our blowup watermelon slice that kept their eyes in the water but their ears out. Each dive group saw coral heads as big as the divers, with colors as vibrant as a firework show. The biodiversity blew our minds from the fish to the hard and soft corals to the marine creatures that we will still have to identify.
Our dinner was a delicious lentil dal that we served down below due to some rain, but luckily it cleared up enough that our bowls didn’t fill up with water as we ate outside. My squeeze question was, what is your go-to happy/good vibes song? As we went around the circle, Amanda C. jotted them all down so we could make an amazing playlist for our next passage! Our after-dinner announcements were full of excitement as we found out what amazing things we would be doing for the next few days! They were also interrupted by a dolphin swimming right past our cockpit!! We all ran to the port side to watch it feed on a sea snake!! Absolutely crazy, as sea snakes are not part of their regular diet. Once we all settled back down, it was time for some clean-up.
Despite this fun-filled day, it was not over! Throughout the day, as the different dive groups were out, the people on Argo were studying away for the first Oceanography exam tonight- given by yours truly. While I haven’t graded them yet, I am sure everyone did stellarly! With bodies and minds fully spent, we all went to our bunks excited for what tomorrow will bring.

Shout out to everyone back home. We love and miss you all, oodles! Can’t wait to share all of our amazing experiences here in Raja Ampat with you all soon!

Also, a very special happy first birthday to my niece, Amelia Lorraine!

From this side of the world to yours, I wish you a sunny, happy day like ours!
Amanda’s human (Hu)

A couple of pictures that don’t do the reef justice and two pictures of Kayli and Emma on their assisted snorkel