Location: Kuata, Fiji
Another day in paradise!
Hello from the other side of the world, family, and friends. If you have not heard of me, my name is Eleanor Brown! I am one of the shipmates here on Argo. I started off today playing Ben Rector’s song “Brand New” and dancing about the cabins to awake the crew. Morgan, Ky, Tyler, Caleigh, and Will joined me in the salon to work on school work as we watched the boat slowly wake up. Oftentimes getting up early is my favorite part of the day and being able to enjoy those few rare moments where things are quiet here, but what is even better is getting to watch as Argo comes to life as people appear from cabins and hammocks around the ship, excited to see what that day may bring them. I also think it is important I update you all on the man from last night who was flashing their lights at us as we pulled into Kuata. This morning when I went on deck to awake the other students, I was surprised to find Tim leaned over the side of Argo talking to a man on a paddleboard. Turns out he and Tim hit it off, but that does not surprise me because who does not like Tim?
Today, we had Tyler as our head chef, and might I add. He is quite skilled! Thank you, Tyler’s mom, for raising an amazing son. I am thankful to have him as one of my new best friends. With the help of his two sous chefs, Will and Bridget, some gourmet granola and yogurt were served at 7:30 am. If there is one interesting thing about living on Argo, it is how food-crazed we have become. Who knew that peanut butter would become a rare commodity?! We bought out the entire Fiji grocery store of peanut butter, and when a jar of peanut butter shows up during meal time, you would think we were all raised by cavemen based on the way we fight to have that last scoop of creamy (or crunchy) peanut delight. Mia and I often find each other just to discuss in detail certain foods we miss, which for me is currently sour gummy worms (miss you, Shelbs)! After breakfast, we did clean up, and our day began! The majority of the day was a rotation of diving, dinghy rides, and last-minute school work sessions. Before diving began, we all had the chance to see the different scientific resources for testing data we will collect for our final projects in oceanography. These mechanisms ranged from microscopes to contraptions we lower in the water to catch algae. Caroline and I toyed with our pH tape for quite some time, and may I add we are quite the scientists. From there, it was time for the first dive group of the day to set out on their adventures!
For me and my fellow DMT (divemasters in training), which includes Meg and Max, we were the first in the water today! We dinghied over to an area right off the bow of Argo and picked a sandy area to set up a dive site that the other students would be practicing navigation skills on later that day. Together, Meg, Max, and I used a line tied to a fender to mark the location which we deemed worthy. Once we set up the fender marker, we then measured out a hundred feet on a measure and used extra weights we brought down to keep it in place. I always enjoy my time diving with my DMT squad and find our time together therapeutic as we seem to have an unspoken language that we communicate with underwater with ease. I would like to say that in the lingo of my BFF Kylie, the jellyfish today were pretty gnarly (do I sound like I am a Californian yet, Ky?!) I could not stick my arm out without touching at least 5 jellyfish at once. We then went back up to the surface and headed back to Argo. The time before lunch was mostly spent just working on our essays due tonight in Marine Biology about plastic in the ocean or study for the upcoming quiz in oceanography. After that, it was time for lunch! The food craze continues as we all got to experience some fresh salad for the first time in a long time accompanied by pesto pasta. We enjoyed some sun and the chance to enjoy each other’s company, but not too long before it was time to clean up. I found myself meeting up with Caroline, Mia, and Morgan by the pasta bowl to do our part in making sure there is no food waste by eating the pasta remainders. After clean-up, it was back to more studying and essay writing! While some groups waited for their turn to dive, others got the chance for some downtime and vice versa. Besides the DMT squad, the rest of the crew were doing navigation dives today and got the chance to practice their compass and kick cycle skills! Some even got to see white tip reef sharks!!!
The last group of divers, along with the DMT, left a little bit later than expected due to having to pump tanks. When it was our turn to go out on what would be the DMT second dive of the day, the weather seemed to have picked up, and the current was pretty rough. Despite the hectic conditions, the DMT loaded the dinghy with our heavy dive gear the fastest we have done it yet! Pretty exciting stuff. We are starting to get the hang of our divemaster duties which for me is really rewarding. With each day, the tanks feel lighter, and our dive skills are done with more confidence. Our dive consisted of checking off more DMT skills, so this time was mostly navigation and knot skills. By the time our dive was over, we had surfaced to the sun going down and a strong wind bringing in the night sky. It was chaotically beautiful in its own way. We headed back to the ship and quickly unloaded the dinghy, and broke down our gear. With strong storms coming in, a girl gang of me, Mia, Annie, Meg, Amanda, and Steph worked together to get Nopadone back onto Argo just in case the swells got a little crazy while we were asleep. I would like to say I am especially grateful for Gabe, who is not only an important staff member on the ship, but to me, Meg, and Max, he is someone we look up to. He works with us to perfect our dive skills and teach us how to be confident in ourselves, and see the potential we have to become DMT. He is patient with us and spends much of his own free time teaching us ways to grow as not only divers but people. We love you, Gabe!
The day ended with an amazing dinner of breakfast sandwich bar by Tyler and his sous chefs, along with lovely bread baked by Tim. Everyone stay tuned for my cooking that is to come tomorrow. I look forward to listening to Morgan’s kitchen playlist while I pretend I am making pizzas in Italy. Tonight I enjoyed chatting with Cole, Pierce, Morgan, and Ky at dinner time and being bundled up in my foul rain jacket after a chilly evening into a night scuba dive session. The wind was strong, but we all huddled together for warmth. My squeeze question for tonight was, where is your happy place and why? I loved hearing what everyone had to say and learning something new about all these incredible people. For me, I said my happy place is on a sailboat, in the middle of the ocean, just like this moment. I also said my favorite part of the day was when Caroline shared her kit kat with me. Even though it happened yesterday, it meant so much to me I had to mention it even a day later! Now we are off to take quizzes and turn in last-minute essays. I heard happy squeals from the dish pit tonight as some of our members saw a sea snake swim by. There is never a dull moment on Argo, is there? Even on these hectic days and windy nights, there is always something to be appreciative of when you are living on a sailboat in the middle of Fiji. So now, if you would excuse me, I am off to enjoy a sprite with Ky and enjoy the stars. We miss all family, friends, and especially pets.
Mom, Dad, Shelby, Hayes, Clara, and Koda – I miss you guys! Thank you for being the best family and pushing me to do this experience. Love y’all.