Location: Machico, Madeira

Yesterday we had an early wakeup at 06:30 to make sure we were on time for our excursion. Since we did such a speedy job getting to shore yesterday, we were graced with a normal 07:00 wakeup today. Madeira observes daylight savings, so we had a pretty sunrise to wake up to instead of the darkness we’ve had for the last few weeks. And it proved to be an especially beautiful one! As skipper today, I had the pleasure of waking everyone up to the sounds of Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, Shake it Off by Taylor Swift (of course!), and Circle of Life, and various other Disney tunes. The wakeup was well received, along with the news that breakfast of homemade crepes was already on deck and ready to eat. Everyone hopped out of bed to have a hot breakfast and pack their lunches in preparation for the hike today. After cleanup, everyone swiftly got into the dinghies to head to shore. We had about a 45-minute drive to reach the beginning of the hike. The drive was a great warmup for what was to come because there were awesome views and HUGE tunnels on the way. One of them was over 3 km long! The guide was really fun and knowledgeable, and she described how the big stones used to pave the trail on the hike had been laid hundreds of years ago as the main way to traverse the island. She also led the students through large walking tunnels that had been carved through the peaks. The longest one we went through took us over a minute of walking in the dark to get to the other end. Some people used lights to help them get through, and others enjoyed finding their way through by feel. The hike was in the western portion of the island, and it included the tallest peak in Madeira. The students reached the very top and had a beautifully clear view all around them for several minutes before a few clouds rolled in again. It was also a great spot to eat our lunch with the gorgeous view.

While the students were hiking with Smash, Sam, and Brahm, Lolo went provisioning to provide us with lots of yummy food, and Ben, Tim, and I stayed on the boat to work on sail repairs, engine room projects, and grading/class prep. Lolo brought us some treats back from the store, and the 4 of us had a really tasty and decadent lunch in the sunshine. After the students returned to Argo, they went swimming, practiced their free diving, worked on their backflips, and enjoyed some free time in the nice weather. Some did laundry while others took a nap after getting all their steps in from the hike. It was a very peaceful and pleasant afternoon in the sun. Brahm drove Sam and me in the dinghy over to some large semi-submerged rocks nearby to have a quick snorkel. There was a lot of cool fish and invertebrates, and we are planning to take the full group over there tomorrow. For dinner, we had a hearty and filling curry from head chef Tim, and the conversation was flowing all through dinner. Our squeeze question was, “What is your proudest moment?” Answers ranged from sporting accomplishments, getting into the dream college, receiving the first paycheck, and achieving personal growth and goals. It was really cool to learn more about everyone and what makes them unique and special. To end squeeze, we played a lightning round of pterodactyl. If you haven’t played this game, it’s a really fun and silly one where you use funny voices and sounds and try not to laugh as the shouts of “pterodactyl” move around the circle. We are now finishing up another spirited cleanup, and the PSCT students are taking their first practice exam for COLREGS (aka collision regulations). I heard rumors that there might also be a movie night in the works for the evening.

Goodnight! Mama, Daddy, and Anna, I miss and love you!

Pictured: Sunrise, views, and smiles from the hike, one of the walking tunnels carved into the hills.