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Location: Sorong, Indonesia

Ahoy!
Skipper Margo here, checking in to tell you about the FIRST day of NOVEMBER (holy cow, already?). Todays playlist for our 6:30 AM wakeup was Home (by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes) and A-O-K (by Tai Verdes). Theres nothing like the love in your shipmates eyes when you come in to wake them up If looks could kill, skipper would be considered a high-mortality job. After breakfast and clean-up, we hopped right in the dinghies and went over to RARCC- The Raja Ampat Research and Conservation Center.
There, those of us who didnt make his acquaintance yesterday met Max Ammer, founder of Papua Diving and our guide for the day. A German-Dutch adventurer with a penchant for all things vintage, he told us how he originally came to Papua to restore old jeeps. However, once he saw how beautiful the environment was, he became immersed in the world of conservation.
Built on a repurposed coconut plantation, RARCC is actually part of a series of enterprises that Ammer runs. The beachside location is also home to the Sorido Bay Resort (not saying you should put it on your bucket list, but its probably a good idea to consider it), Papua Diving, Frontier Airlines, Kayak 4 Conservation, and a boat building workshop. Each of these projects, Max explained to us, is focused entirely on training and hiring Papuan locals. In the boat-building workshop, for example, he told us how he hires Papuans (many of them ex-shark finners or bomb fishermen) to not only build his eco-friendly electric boats but also act as local guides and captain them. A man with a million ideas, Max is also in the midst of building a shark breeding program, as well as running an agroforestry outreach program with local villages to counter deforestation.
Just like our tour guide, our tour also had a million different focuses, and I couldnt have predicted any minute of it beforehand. At one point, Max led us by an impressive array of solar panels, past the gardens fertilized with repurposed wastewater, and onto a nondescript jungle path. After 15 minutes of hiking and wondering where we were going, we came upon our destination- a helicopter hangar deep in the mountains. As we walked in, Max proudly explained that he was working on building a flight school in the nearby city of Sorong. He uses his helicopter (vintage, of course- it was built in 1965) to explore the local area.
At this point, we thought there was no way we could be more surprised. We were wrong! After our hike down the mountain, we got to go to Papua divings merch shop, which doubled as a museum of WW2 relics. Im not sure where it all came from, but the mini-museum had everything from uniforms to guides on flying a warplane. All of this occurred before lunch, so we got our swag and high-tailed it back to Argo for some grub.
After lunch, we got underway to Sorong, so we could provision and check out before our long passage to Komodo (its seven days at sea!). During clean-up, I helped put up the jib so we could check for any tears in the sail. I also got to be on bow watch, which is my favorite job!
Next, we had some classes. In Oceanography, we talked about global wind patterns- and got to do some sick hands-on learning with our very own paper airplane race. In Leadership, we went back over our TED talks and discussed what makes for effective communication. As is customary at sea, we ended classes with a round of deck showers. I definitely missed the high-pressure saltwater firehose (psych not a fan of having to physically hold my bathing suit on my body). The sunset was so beautiful- passage sunsets always are.
After dinner, we pulled into Sorong Harbour. I got to be on bow watch again- it was super important because there were a ton of little unlit boats that were getting wayyyy too close to us. We made it to anchor with no problem, though!
After we got anchored, my attention was pulled back home for a little bit. Although it may seem otherwise, that college student grind still goes on here on Argo. At school (Im a junior at Eckerd College, here on a semester abroad), Im part of a scholarship program called the NOAA Hollings, where I get to apply for an NOAA internship for next summer. After weeks of back-and-forth emails (its hard to schedule anything when you dont know where in the world youll be tomorrow), I finally got an interview scheduled for tonight! I had to stay up until 10 Sorong time (9 AM home time), which was even more painful when I realized that I had to get up a four tomorrow to do anchor watch and then sous chef. Still, it was so worth it!
Love from Argo,
Margo
P.S. I got my internship! Apparently, this program is a good way to set yourself apart from other applicants (or something). Future Argo-nauts reading this, make sure you put good teamwork and easily adaptable on that post-trip resume.
Photos-
#1- Max Ammer, pictured in his boat-building workshop, explains the environmental benefits of catamaran dive boats (left).
#2- Our dinghy-hauling team putting Megatron away and getting ready to set sail to Sorong
#3- Paper airplane fun (ahem.. I mean learning) in Oceanography