Location: Underway to Devil's Island

30th of March, 2023.

It has rained every night since leaving Fernando de Noronha, and our days have been spent trying to dry off between drizzly squalls. Every inch of the lifelines is consumed by wet laundry, hung up only to get rained on again. There is no wind to speak of, certainly not enough to get us where we’re going on time. In fact, we haven’t had enough wind to sail at all since leaving Saint Helena. This morning we put up five of our six sails: the main, the two staysails, the two jibs. No one is quite sure why we did this. It certainly wasn’t because there was the wind. It wasn’t for practice either, as if that had been the only goal, we would have taken them down again, given the lack of wind. The sails now hang off of their stays and spars, damp and lifeless, much like our laundry. Max decided to interview all of the staff with a single question: “Why are we fake sailing?” Here are our answers:

Freddie: Increased sail area should result in faster speeds
Amanda Cole: Manifesting the wind to get stronger
Claire: Freddie’s bored
Ben: Fake it til you make it
Amanda Shuman: To look prettier
Me: To willfully disengage from reality

As bizarre as the morning was, it was but an opening act for what was to come in the afternoon. To give some context, upon getting underway from Brazil, a frog was found in the port forward head. It had the build of a tree frog, the temperament of a pond frog, and was very much still alive and hopping. Upon finding this frog, Elene took swift action in taking its picture and then closed the door to the head, leaving a note that said, “Do not open frog.” For two days, the door was left closed. Two days ago, Brina opened the door, captured the frog, and put it in a big Tupperware with air holes cut into the top. The floor of the Tupperware was filled with water to create a swamp-like environment. Emma cut up a Pringles can and gave the pieces to the frog for when it wanted to perch above the water. Elizabeth made origami frogs to be the frog’s friends atop the Tupperware. Diced apple pieces were scattered about the swamp to attract fruit flies. Dead insects were collected from around the deck and offered up to the frog, who would only eat them at night. Live flies were found to inhabit the anchor locker, so the students set to regularly catching them.

The frog is very cute. Depending on who you ask, its name is either Hugo or Froj. A debate has raged since the discovery of Froj. Do we care for it as one of our own until we can hopefully find a better home for it? Or do we see that it is suffering away from its natural habitat and that we should put it out of its misery before it suffers more? Opinions have run hot on this question. There are plenty of flies in the anchor locker, and it’s so cute, says Team Let the Frog Live. We can’t release it anywhere because it might be carrying a foreign frog disease that infects other innocent amphibians, and we’re going to run out of live flies, says Team Kill the Frog. And so, to settle this, Amanda Cole decided to let the justice system decide. Thus began the Great Frog Trial of Argo Spring 2023.

A jury of seven students was chosen based on their prior ambivalence to the question. The remaining students all picked a side. For hours, impassioned speeches were volleyed back and forth in the saloon, about the preciousness of frog life, about the cruelty of keeping a wild animal in a Tupperware. I was on the helm and didn’t see any of it. Eventually, in a 5 to 2 decision, the jury ruled that the frog should die. The following are some eyewitness testimonials that I collected but forgot to write down, so I will paraphrase them:

Natalie: “The jury was far from unbiased. Team Kill the Frog snuck in some secret agents to sway the decision”
Beau: “This was a kangaroo court if I’ve ever seen one.”
Emma: “We presented a careful and rational argument, while the other side just tried to cheaply appeal to emotion.”
Gabe D: “We presented a careful and rational argument, while the other side just tried to cheaply appeal to emotion.”
Tim: “I put money on that frog.”

My impression was that no one was happy about any of this. I’ve been told to clarify that this trial was only an exercise in group leadership and that the captain will decide the fate of the frog, as is proper in affairs such as these.

At some point this morning, Zoe and Audrey started pretending to be crabs, and now everyone is doing it. It’s just one of those days.