Location: Komodo National Park, Indonesia
As the third watch team of the night anchored the ship behind a golden sunrise, and in front of the visitor center, the islands that had been shrouded in fog during our journey lit up and revealed themselves to us. The ship was abuzz with activity by 7:30, with tired sailors making breakfasts of fruit and oatmeal drowned in peanut butter or Nutella and appreciating their new surroundings. Several of the crew took Nopadone (one of two dinghies kept onboard Argo) to the nearest island to retrieve a stack of permission slips as thick as the iron doors between each room of the ship. These passes will allow us to swim, dive, and explore the islands over the next few days, hoping to find the semi-mythical beasts to which the island owes its name. While the crew went on their voyage of bureaucracy, all the students jumped ship to participate in a test of our swimming ability, involving three laps around the boat and ten minutes of treading water. Finally allowed to swim in the ocean, we had a blast, save for the mild jellyfish encounters (your children are safe). Afterward, the next generation of divers enjoyed mandatory videos explaining the basics of getting from point A to point B and back underwater. At the same time, the experienced members of the group studied textbooks on rescuing the aforementioned newbies.
With the return of the crew, treasures in hand, we set out on a short trip to a more favorable position, passing islands and ‘antique’ wooden ships galore. While the majority of the students continued their long and extremely thorough education below deck, the rescue divers in training finished their work so that Cooper would take them to snorkel near Argo. Upon their arrival, the Open Water Divers had finished several hours of movies and testing. This was the point in the day where the students began to pull out snacks that were purchased in Kupang and hidden away for the journey, including many brands they had never seen before with bizarre flavors, such as shrimp chips and meat… bags.
The day wound down as the chefs prepared dinner, and we prepared our scuba equipment for tomorrow and relaxed as the sunset and the moon rose. Tomorrow, we dive!