Location: Underway to St. Helena
We are becoming tantalizingly close to our first port of call in St. Helena, and with excitement building for the promised land, I personally can’t wait for the first person to see and then bellow the old mariners’ cry. Of “Land A’Hoy!” Having done a little reading about St. Helena and being British myself, its status as a British overseas territory intrigues me. Sam and Aika delivered our first destination presentation sharing the history, things to do, and places of interest on this tiny island. With previous Portuguese and Dutch visitors between the years 1502 and 1659, St. Helena is mostly famous for Napoleon’s exile to and death on the island in 1815 and 1821, respectively. A few of us were also surprised to hear about the island’s 18-hole golf course! Typical classes ensued this afternoon with a knot tying masterclass on deck, mostly taught by the more experienced student sailors and with just a few hints and tips added by Bryant and myself.
As the days have passed, strangers have become friends, minds lost in nautical terminology have become the crew, and the 112ft of Argo and 26 souls aboard have become one. Some small pranks, jokes, games, and humor have become commonplace as everyone is now comfortable in what was once a foreign environment. Most of our pre-dinner “squeeze” questions have become lighthearted and fun, but I wished to enter the group into a more reflective mood. For the mathematicians out there, day 18 means that 20% of our literal and metaphorical journey has already been and gone. So as skipper of the day, I dutifully asked: “What is ‘home’ to you?” A classic question from sister company ActionQuest’s staff training, designed not in an attempt to induce homesickness but to provide an opportunity for a grounded perspective of these young adult worlds. The conclusion is that we are all different, hold unique values, and of course, know each other a little better after sharing our thoughts.
As a staff member, you would think my position onboard be one that is authoritative and directive. You couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite my experiences and qualifications, Argo is relatively new to me, too, as is crossing an ocean, and I am quite literally in the same boat as your son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, peer, or loved one. It is a truly great teachable moment when asked a question by a student specifically about Argo, the program, a place we may visit, or the schedule, and I can just shrug my shoulders and reply, “I don’t know, let’s go find out together.” Of course, I bring my own knowledge and experience to the table at that moment but improving the confidence, competence, ability to connect, and character of each shipmate is the goal for me. As we begin to hand over the responsibilities of running Argo, such as Watch Leader, to the Argonauts, they begin to grow and discover. We are truly in a place of learning, exploration, and adventure, and as you read this, just as I know my own mother and loved ones will, I wanted to reassure all that are thinking of us that we are doing great! Hopefully, we will all be able to make a call to special ones from St. Helena, but if communication isn’t possible on this very remote island, then we’ll be speaking to you from Brazil in another 1700 nautical miles time!!!