Location: Les Saintes, Guadelupe
The early bird may catch the worm, but the wise Sea|mester student will catch up on sleep whenever possible. No time was this statement truer than on our first short passage. After leaving the British Virgin Islands on the 23rd of January and spending the whole next day at sea, today began with Watch Team One taking the helm at midnight.
Throughout the 12 am to 4 am shift, six students, with the guidance and coaching of two staff members, rotated between three positions. Two students were always on bow watch, braving the swells and sea spray that sometimes swept aboard to be the first to see if there are any potential hazards on the horizon (eating on bow watch always comes with the bonus of a saltwater spray in food). On the hour, every hour, two other students would check to make sure the boat was functioning properly, with everything neatly put away. There would also be a student at the helm, using stars or landmasses to navigate. Depending on the Watch Team, students would rotate positions either every hour or at some other time interval.
Overall the passage was uneventful; sails were up, and for a while, the engine was turned off. However, as we were sailing into the wind and the swells were quite large, Argo was in full pitch and swing for almost the entire time. Even those who claimed to have iron stomachs admitted to feeling nauseous during the passage.
Finally, Argo reached Les Saintes. Many were grateful to return to calmer waters and no longer felt inclined to use seasickness medication. Watch Teams 1 and 3 worked together to drop the sails and bring Argo safely into the harbor. For the rest of the crew, the day began at noon, with lunch being the first group activity of the day. Then, as an appreciation to Argo for carrying us the 236 nautical miles, the entire crew partook in a boat appreciation session.
Boat Appreciation means that the crew spent several hours taking care of our girl: cleaning bunks, the salon, the galley, and the deck. Removing several days’ worth of salt build-up was hard but ultimately rewarding work. At this time, laundry was also sent to shore.
As soon as Argo gleamed, some students decided to go free diving; others decided to stay on work on their various projects and assignments or swim around the boat. At the same time, Meg, Ivan, and Seby worked on dinner while singing along to Ivan’s rocking playlist.
It’s only been ten days, but, for most of us, it feels like we’ve been here for three weeks the danger of forgetting people’s names passed by day two or three. And we are slowly gaining our sea legs. We’ve come a long way and still have an even longer way to go. Despite the moaning and groaning that accompanies the possibility of deck showers, I have complete confidence that our crew will find it hard to say goodbye to each other and this amazing experience by the time April arrives.
Pictured: A variety of shots from arriving in the harbor in Les Saintes this morning; getting the boat “put to bed” aka sails down, sail covers on, etc.; boat appreciation cleaning projects; lunch; free time/swim time; Argo looking sparkly; our leadership class where we did group challenges blindfolded; and our group mission statement that we built during leadership class tonight.
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