Location: Underway to Palau
At long last, Fiji has fallen behind the Eastern horizon, and once again, Argo is enveloped in waves and blanketed by open sky. While we once feared that this semester might have no long passage at all, we are now underway to a place that Argo has never gone before. We are on course to cross into the North Pacific and enter Micronesia for the first time in Seamester history. No one onboard has been to Palau.
Today has been a continuous exercise in sail handling. Starting on the forenoon watch and continuing until after dinner, the students have lowered, reefed, and raised the main, have raised and lowered the jib, and have center-lined and prevented out the staysails several times each throughout the day. Gone are the days of confusedly standing back and wondering what to do; every student on board now knows how to work together on deck. If today is anything to go by, we should have high hopes for the rest of the passage to come.
I’d like to talk a bit about a member of the Argo family that I don’t think gets enough attention. When I was first aboard Argo in 2010, I became acquainted with a small dragon, which could be found perched in the starboard forward chart house porthole, just above the main salon watertight door. Today, that dragon is still there, in exactly the same place as it was a decade ago. It appears to be made of wicker and wood, and it is arched in an intimidating pounce. As far as we know, it has always been on Argo. One might easily confuse it for merely a hand-crafted trinket until you look closer and see that nothing is securing it to its eternal nest; it is holding onto the porthole with only its claws.
At dinner, I put it to the crew that this dragon is a mystery worth investigating. When did it get here? What does it want? Does it have a name? Some suggested that the dragon is the physical totemic manifestation of Argo’s very spirit, whatever that means. Some pondered that it was cursed to live forever as a wicker statue. Some hypothesized that its name might be Ronald. I am still deliberating on all of this. My own theory is that it is, in fact, a real dragon that got stuck inside the chart house. In its distress, it entered into a sort of petrified cocoon state. At some point, it will molt and emerge from its slumber much, much larger. I wonder when that will happen…
Sail handling at midships
Pierce, Caroline, Megan, Max, and Jennifer at the bow