Location: Port-Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
Red light bled into my vision, not blinding but glaring all the same. It wasn’t the ambiguous kind of light swimming in the air. It was the sharp kind, straight from a source. I diverted my eyes from the disturbance, rolling back to sleep. An indiscernible amount of time passed, I was exhausted. Suddenly, I felt another shake. In front of me, the veinous hand of the man who sleeps below me, Evan. I glanced at my glowing watch, 23:37. Thirteen minutes until I need to be up on deck, I thought. My feet swung out over the ledge, and my head was met abruptly by the bunk above mine. Argo was in some gnarly sea state; nothing too rough, but enough for me to be extra sure about planting my feet firmly.
I heard Evan comment “Bro…” from our cabin’s sliding doorway. “It’s been such a tough night to wake people up.” He continued, “I’ve woken up Frank, Garrison, and Rhea twice, and both times they’ve just gone back to sleep. No one wants to get up, man.” This was understandably true. Many of us have been working so late into the night for schoolwork while on this passage that when we finally get into our bunks, we’re ready for a deep-sleep-cleanse.
Finally, with enough encouragement, watch team one was at mid-ships getting our briefing from Garrison. The night sky was a deep blue and grey canvas, with twinkling red and white lights expanding until our horizons. With rotations every hour, our team covered boat checks, helming, and bow watch until we were relieved at 0400. Time passed with good conversation and soft music. Even in the moments of quiet, you can hear the erratic stretch of the lines being pulled taut, and the waves roll out from the sides of our vessel. Occasionally, when the wind becomes variable, or we are pulled too far off course, the sail will luff, and light clanks will emerge from the boom. The whole night waves rocked us from side to side.
When I woke up again at 0900, I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig for about two hours in my bunk. Disguised as a father and son motorcycle journey across the Northwestern United States, this book is a philosophical inquiry into some of life’s most fundamental questions, including the utility and pitfalls of the scientific method.
At around 1100, I went up to greet the majestic ocean and watch team three as they were in the final stretch of their morning 8-12 shift. The sun was glistening off the hundreds of waves on our starboard side. Lunch came up an hour later, vegetable curry with a nice spicy kick to it. Afterward, we had classes and on-deck showers. The Dive Masters in Training (DMTs) had some knowledge review to crank through and then shepherd’s pie for dinner at 1800.
During the sunset, which certainly rivaled some of the best we’ve seen all trip, we started to pass closely by an island in Vanuatu. After dinner, the students led the pulling down of sails and flaking each of them at dusk, as it shortly faded tonight. This passage was predominately student-led. We took charge when sails got brought up, we took turns leading watch teams, and then we finally led the breaking down of sails tonight. We have all learned so much in such a short period of time; it’s pretty remarkable to see. Whether it pertains to sailing, scuba diving, or community building, it is clear that every person on board has encountered valuable growth within the past 1-2 months.
Now we are anchored in Port-Vila, Vanuatu. There seem to be more lights onshore here than we have come across on other islands, and as a result, there are some pretty excited crew members to be back in “city” again. As for me, I love the small island towns. I haven’t missed the city one bit, but I can understand where my shipmates are coming from. I didn’t even know of Vanuatu a couple of months ago, and now, in the darkness, its port city is lit up with a myriad of lights. Well, there’s more work to be done tomorrow, so I’m off to bed. Argo out.
Pictured: Garrison, Sam, Henry, and Danny enjoying some dinner at sunset; beautiful sunset view; Raul, Emily, Anastacia, and Rhea striking the jib; dinner with a view.