Location: Ahe Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

If the world is our oyster, today we found the pearl. Ok, so maybe we didn’t find the pearl, but we got to witness the extraction and re-seeding of black pearls at the Kamoka Pearl Farm in Ahe Atoll.

In the morning, after a breakfast of chocolate chip banana bread (a la Alexa and chef crew), our rescue divers in training had a surprise…let’s call it a stress test. Starting with Meg and Tim jumping off the boat after cleanup, soon almost the entire staff (including our fearless leader, Bryant) was in the water acting as either a panicked or tired diver. For those who had already completed the rescue diver course, it was incredibly amusing watching the rescue candidates problem solve. It was additionally amusing to watch the personas the staff took on. Tim talked about seeing Ringo Star in the water, and Amy completely ignored the life preserver and swam after the student trying to rescue her. As soon as some of the staff were ‘rescued,’ they saw their friends ‘panicking’ and jumped in to join them. All in all, a great experience and stress test for the candidates, and an amusing spectacle for the rest of us. (I have a video of all of it).

For the rest of the morning, rescue dive candidates continued their training. Pocket masks and rescue breaths were the name of the game. For the DMTs (Dive Masters in Training), we took the ‘middle children’ (Ivan, Alexa, and Jack – already a Diver Instructor, Dive Master, and Rescue Diver respectively) on a ‘fun dive.’ Our task was to respond appropriately to the prescribed problems that those divers would have. It was a great training experience, not only in responding to problems but also to experience how actual divers interact underwater. As a DMT you start to see potential problems everywhere, even if there are none. The key is to keep calm, confident, and learn the difference between an actual problem and someone just playing around.

After lunch we got to visit the Kamoka Pearl Farm, meeting the interesting people who worked there, hearing their stories, and learning more about how black pearls are farmed. Josh was very patient with us, answering all of our questions and showing us the process of removing the pearl from the gonad of the oyster, judging its quality, and re-seeding the oyster with a nucleus for a new pearl to form around. Many of us had the opportunity to buy pearls from the farm, and the second group got to snorkel and observe them placing the oyster baskets back in the water.

Dinner was carbs on carbs on carbs (pesto pasta and garlic knots). It was very delicious but it made some of us very sleepy. After dinner, we had our Oceanography Final Exam. All we have left is the Oceanography Group Research Presentation, final Leadership Essay, Marine Bio Exam 4, and Nav Master Exam.

Tomorrow we begin our first student-led passage from Ahe Atoll to Mo’orea. As elected by students, Jack will be our Skipper and Ivan will be our First Mate (hopefully not being super sleepy on watch with his ‘chakras open’ like another First Mate we all know…). All in all, a very successful day.

Before I leave you, I must acknowledge that the students will be returning to friends and family soon. While this will be exciting, you may find that your loved ones will be speaking differently, saying things about salty buckets and the laz that don’t make sense. Therefore, in anticipation of this language barrier, I have prepared a few key terms that will aid you in understanding Argo Boat Speak (an actual language – very difficult to learn).

Watch team specific terms

Watch team 1: Ivan, Jack, Alexa, Sam, London, and Jenna (Staff: Ian and Amanda)
“getting a little deep there Tex” – When we are helming, and Ian thinks we are getting a little too deep (on compass bearing). Whether or not we are getting deep remains to be seen.
Dolphin Ian – Apparently Ian can make half of his brain fall asleep, like a dolphin. Things get strange when dolphin Ian makes an appearance
Ian’s Chakras – Additionally, Ian claims that closing his eyes and being unaware of his surrounding is perfectly ok because his ‘chakras’ are open so he isn’t asleep at all…. sure Ian…
Babycakes – Ian’s pet name
Trash Daddy – Jack’s pet name
Samalicious – Sam’s pet name – together Babycakes, Trash Daddy and Samalicious fight crime and marine polluters
“moist is the essence of wet” – even we aren’t entirely sure what this means, it’s just Ian, this time in the rain
Great Wall of China – a moment on watch, you had to be there

Watch team 2: David B., David D., Eliza, Seby, and Kai (Staff: Tim and Steph)
Tiny Tim – Tim is not just Tim. Tim is everyone, or is everyone, Tim?
Eliza, blessed be her reign Eliza is Queen and should be respected as such. It is customary to exchange this phrase among watch members and plebeians alike
Name five things that aren’t Jackie Chan – You can’t, and that’s a fact
What are the odds – A game played that increases your chances of eating a whole jar of pickled onions by at least 25% (or 1 in 4)
Bad ‘would you rather’ questions – This is all Tim

Watch team 3: Alex, Brittney, Peter, Sophie, Bianca, and Drake (Staff: Amy and Meg)
We are not sure what exactly happens on watch team three. There have been rumors, whispers, but nothing can be proven. Their speech is strange, even to us. Approach with extreme caution.

Regular terms
Spinner Wrasse – Honestly Amy, it is a real fish. It’s got a propeller and everything. No Alex didn’t make up a fish for his log book…that would be crazy…
“Stop eating that Jack”/”Gross Jack” – Usually said when Jack’s eating a raw flying fish found on deck, a spoonful of melted butter, or a piece of raw squid. Honestly Jack…
Jack’s Shorts – That boy needs more shorts – Jack, if you are reading this post Sea|mester, CLEAN YOUR SHORTS!!!
Skadoosh – A David D.-ism
2-6 – This has no translation; it’s a mystery
Yeet – Another David D.-ism
“Seconds?” – Said in a hopeful voice by a certain David D. Usually followed by “Sit down David.”
Master and Commander – A delightful movie about a Gladiator who becomes a Robin Hood figure in France, who also sings. There is also a magic ring, a school for Witch Craft and Wizards, a wardrobe leading to a magical land, some dragons. We’re not entirely sure, Tim hasn’t seen it.
Baked Ziti – We do not talk about Baked Ziti
Argo Farts – No I did not fart, that was just Argo being Argo
Thoughts against humanity/What’s on your mind – A game played that tests people’s creativity and association skills. It’s all rigged anyway (according to Ian)
Jack’s mustache – glorious while it lasted, it will be missed
Day 75 – Not a real day, obviously it’s fake
PFDs/PDFs/BCDs – interchangeable terms for the same thing
Hydrate or diedrate – don’t get dehydrated
Pulling a David – Kicking a dock and getting a splinter in your foot. You can bet that all of us wear shoes on wooden docks from now on.
Laz diving – A hot and sweaty activity that makes you appreciate fresh air and sunshine
Chesapeake Bay – We’ve never been there, but we sure know our way around the harbor
Log Books are due tonight- a phrase that results in the entire student crew crammed in the salon, either drawing, recording, or making up fake fish (see: Spinner Wrasse)

Thank you for your patience. I’m sure only 12% of that made sense but, given that it was a collective effort to collect these terms to share with you, all I can say for certain is that at least we understand each other.

See you all soon!

Pictured:
Sunrise in Ahe
Drake throwing a life ring to some tired divers
Peter demonstrated a reach assist in helping Amanda
The chaos of the first practice rescue scenario
View from inside the workspace of the pearl farm
Josh demonstrating how to remove the pearl and re-seed the oyster
Josh’s workspace at the Kamoka Pearl Farm
Shore time on Ahe
View of the clear water at the dock