Location: Bequia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
It’s hard to believe that only three weeks have passed since our students first stepped aboard Argo in English Harbor; it feels like we’ve been together for so much longer, yet at the same time, these past weeks have flown by. They’ve been a busy few weeks for the Argo staff, filled with grocery shopping, boat maintenance, dive instruction, and lecture prep — but we wouldn’t have wanted them any other way.
Over the past three weeks, our new divers have passed their open water course, gaining the skills they needed to safely complete two beautiful but challenging dives on the wall with Dive Dominica. All of our crew have learned the points of sail and have begun to learn how to handle lines and sails on board a working ship — no small feat. They’d stayed on top of their school work this past week as well as the four academic courses offered aboard have kicked off. When not working towards their classes or new certifications, our students have been enjoying shipboard life and explored the seaside towns of new countries — Antigua, Guadeloupe (Les Saintes), Dominica, Bequia (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), and Grenada. As staff, we’ve enjoyed sharing these experiences with them and getting to see all of these amazing places — both topside and underwater — through their eyes.
We all sat down for a brief minute this busy morning to reflect on the first weeks of the program and think about what has stood out to us. For Captain Ben, the growing sense of community has been a highlight. Whether working with one another to hoist the mainsail or do the dishes, the boat is coming together as a team. He has enjoyed watching our shipmates get to know more about the boat, this new environment, and themselves. First mate Ian was glad to see how engaged the students were with the community service project in Dominica; they worked together as a team to serve Roseau’s rebuilding community, and have since taken advantage of time set aside to reflect on the work they did ashore there. Second mate Eric was quick to chime in on how quickly the students’ seamanship skills are coming along, and how he can’t wait to see how far their line and sail handling skills will progress over the next 70 days. He has no doubt that they’ll be able to handle Argo like pros when Classics Week comes around! Program manager Carolyn has loved exploring the islands with this crew, from hiking along the picturesque cliffs and tide pools in Antigua to experiencing the local culture of Dominica during Carnival. She’s thrilled that everyone is getting the hang of boat life and learning how to get days started efficiently — this morning we got both dinghies in the water before breakfast was up, no problem! Provisioner/medic/dive instructor Tina has recently received all of the first drafts of menus from the crew and was touched by the time and effort the shipmates spent on finding recipes that they really loved and trying to adapt them for shipboard life. It may seem like a small thing, but the food really is important to Argo’s crew, and the work that students have put into meals (in addition to all of their other work and obligations!) has left her certain that we’ll be eating great home-cooked meals for the next 70 days. Marine biologist/dive instructor Steve related how glad he was that students were showing initiative in their work in their academics as well, putting in hard work on essays and reading journal articles in their quest to become budding marine scientists. Oceanographer/dive instructor Annemarie was proud of how all of our newly-certified divers have applied their newfound skills on recent dives, diving Dominica’s champagne reef in order to experience first-hand the volcanic processes learned about during class.
With 20 amazing days already behind us, we have no illusions about how fast the rest of the trip will fly by. We’re excited to see what’s coming our way as we move westward from the windward islands and head towards Bonaire, Aruba, Cayman, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the BVI!