Location: Jamestown, St. Helena
Watch team one started off the day with the 12-4 watch and, as per usual, got rained on. Watch team two was from 4-8 and without a drop of rain, spotted land. The cry was heard for miles. Ben G. was the first to sight Saint Helena. A blurry, cloud-like shape 50 nautical miles away. Not to let Argo down, he bellowed toward the stern from bow watch with enthusiasm like no other: “LAND HOOOO!!!!!” and in the process awoke the entire crew of his incredible sighting. Throughout the day of scattered showers and sunshine, the island in the distance grew. The excitement slowly escalated. During afternoon oceanography, another cry rang out: “Whale shark! Everyone on deck!” I don’t think we will ever move that fast again. The narrow hallway to bunks became crammed with students scrambling to find PFD’s. The over-sized fish was about 100 feet off the port bow and moved through the water slowly, with its dorsal fin flapping side to side. We pressed up against the lifelines and tried to snap pictures. An excited Dylan proclaimed this was the best day of his life as we trickled back down to class to continue learning about the salinity of the ocean. Not 10 minutes later, we were racing once more to our bunks and up on deck after the sighting of not one but eight whale sharks. Dylan almost fainted. There were about 30 of them, and they were everywhere. Marina began to tear up. Students climbed onto the bowsprit to gain a closer look. Not scared at all of Argo, one even swam RIGHT UNDER the bow. People were beside themselves. Kris climbed down below the bowsprit with a GoPro to catch some underwater footage. I don’t think I will ever see that many whale sharks in one place again. It was a National Geographic moment for sure. Forty minutes later, after most of the ships, SD cards had been filled, and the sharks had swum off we were back down below. Oceanography was cut short, and we began student leadership development. After a couple of small exercises, we heard the anchor drop, and boat appreciation began. The boat was torn apart, wiped down, bleached, and neatly tucked back together. The cliffs of Saint Helena loomed over Argo as “Smoke” (one of our dinghies) was pumped up, the line locker was rearranged, and the chrome surfaces were polished. At 5:15, the incredibly productive student body was nudged upstairs and off the side to bathe. Back-flips and various dives were performed with shampooed hair, and then it was back down below for dinner at 6. Delicious shepherds pie followed by birthday cake for Del, who turned 19. The food quality on the trip has been exceptional. Dishwashing was on deck with a brief talk from Kris about anchor watch. The day was incredible, and not one anybody will forget. The sighting of land on the passage, followed by a school of whale sharks, with an ending of being looked down upon by an island very few people in the world get to see, life is great.