Location: Cocos Keeling, Australia

It was to be our last full day and only free day in paradise, Cocos Keeling. The morning started off bright and early. We had a group of freshly trained Open Water Divers and a couple of new Advanced Divers go down to co-exist, if only momentarily, with the plethora of sharks, fish, giant clams, and the occasional spritz of eel. The dive was reported as unadulterated beauty in a place barely seen by humanity. I considered us lucky. There was a group separation that had to occur, too many choices, too little day. Some went to “town,” collecting passage amenities and food stuff. Supposedly the milkshakes were quite good. There were those of us that stayed on board to erect the boom swing. This process was quite involved and took over 1 hour to completely disassemble the rigging in order to hoist the mainsail boom about 30 feet in the air and 15 feet over the port side of Argo. We proceeded to attach a spare line to the end of it and fling ourselves into the sea by way of the port aft pin rail. The leap of faith was very humorous or very impressive. Some of us attempted flips, some succeeded, such as Luis when he prevailed finally with a black flip of grace and elegance, though the cameras were stowed away by then, so the only record of his success is this log. In the afternoon, many of us were no longer in groups, and I had decided to attempt to burn the image of paradise into my mind’s eye. The view from the beach on Direction Island made me consider how I was supposed to return to reality. And the sound was like walking on powdered sugar, and the scenery was so serene, so tranquil, it was bliss. In the evening, we convened as a group and started a custom’s approved bonfire, complete with grilled burgers and potato wedges, crafted by none other than Captain Dan and the ever joking Sam. Dinner was punctuated by a beautiful skyscape as we sat around the bonfire. Sadness and happiness began to settle on many of us, as this is our last day in Cocos. The great happiness was felt, though, as it was Lindsay’s birthday. We had delicious brownies and sang poorly but in such high spirits that all ended with smiles on their faces. P.S. During my cruise of Direction Island in the afternoon before the majority of us came, my friend, Chris, taught me how to open the fallen coconuts with an old anchor placed there by the locals. The fresh coconut milk was so delicious that I completely forgot about my water, and the meat was to die for. The discarded coconut meat eventually brought forth a small pilgrimage of hermit crabs. They paraded out of the foliage in marching band fashion and descended upon the coconuts with veracity. It was a sight to behold. During the thick of the feast, I counted upwards of 40 hermits. This I will never forget.