Location: Underway to Fernando de Noronha

In the life of Argo’s crew, February 15th began as a typical day on passage with overnight watch rotations. A light but steady breeze cooled the air as it passed over our starboard quarter. Stars lit the vessel from above, the waning moon hidden by partly cloudy skies. As with most nights, we passed the watchkeeping a good lookout and also gazing at the constellations above. As we travel further north, the Southern Cross sinks lower in the sky each night. Orion, Sirius, and Scorpio shine brightly above and out here, in the middle of the ocean, free from light pollution, the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon. The starry sky was in contrast to the dark water below Argo until we hit a terrific patch of bioluminescence. Unlike the previous bioluminescence encountered on this trip, which lights the water evenly, last night’s was like a series of small, isolated explosions of light and color following our wake.

At lunch, Argo’s crew mustered in the cockpit to meet and brief. We consumed a delicious meal of pasta salad before the students headed below for class. Today was a respite from the usual four classes, and instead, the students began a two-day Emergency First Response CPR and First Aid Course. The music piping out of the class did not sound very conducive to learning until I recognized the song, Staying Alive, which is used to learn the appropriate rate for delivering chest compressions, 100 beats per minute. After everyone had a chance to practice their skills, Claire delivered an awesome how-to presentation on juggling. The open water diver course continued with discussions of dive planning and how to effectively handle underwater emergencies.

Back on deck, all was quiet until I heard a sharp cry from Rob at bow watch, Man-of-War!!! At such a cry, I looked up, half expecting to glimpse aged warship cannons blazing rather than the small but no less potent organism bearing the name. Commonly confused with jellyfish, due to their anatomical similarities and equally painful sting, the Portuguese man-of-war is actually a Hydrozoa, a community of specialized organisms. The visible portion of the Man-of-War, an air-filled sack about the size of a football, floats at the surface and is driven by wind. Trailing below the surface for tens and even hundreds of feet are tentacles equipped with stinging cells for immobilizing prey. Fortunately, this man-of-war drifted harmlessly past Argo’s hull.

The whole crew gathered again at dinner for a meal and to enjoy being together as a whole. During the squeeze, we each came up with our own rap names yielding some creative results. Afterward, we ate delicious chili, which chef Sam, Emma, and Smudge spiced up to a nearly eye-watering level! We’re now awaiting a beautiful sunset and settling in for another night of sailing under the stars.