Location: St. Lucia

Hello, folks at home reading the blog! A misty and wet morning for your favorites here on Argo. We had our usual start at 0700 and a magnificent breakfast of delicately flavored toast from our head chef, Gabe Golden. Regrettably, a cruel irony befell our galley crew, who’d served an ideal breakfast for dry conditions as what began as light misting evolved into an absolute downpour. Not to mention the wonderfully sliced watermelon that had ambitiously taken on extra water! Suffice it to say; the tarp would be a necessity for the closest shred of maintaining the toast’s desiccation (marine biology term). After swiftly putting up our smaller tarp, the crew huddled all underneath the center, finding the most solace from the rain and looking like a family of overgrown meerkats in the process. Once again, today would be a diving day for us, and therefore we’d be divided into two dive groups to indicate which time we venture to the dive site.

The aforementioned dive site in which we would all be adventuring today is named ‘Superman’s Flight’; more on that later. Until then, we were to go through our standard cleanup procedures, and the first dive group (my group) was to make sure their equipment was ready to leave posthaste! Our cleanup process occurred, and the majority of us went below to crack open our Advanced Open Water dive book and rapidly paced through the upcoming dive’s intended knowledge review. Our dive was to be a deep dive, indicating that we were to reach depths of a maximum of 100ft/30m! Furthermore, we were to entertain several simple exercises to indicate the differences between being at depth, such as noticing the discoloration of objects and a secret surprise hidden for us from the staff, again more on that later. Until then, my dive group was to be retrieved from the local marine ranger’s vessel and taken to the dive site in conjunction with our personal dinghy, Plaii. But alas, island time struck us, for the marine rangers were to pick us up at 9:30 am, yet they weren’t seen until nearly half an hour past such. Nonetheless, half of the first dive group put our belongings in the ranger’s small, white motorboat, and we made our way for Superman’s flight!

The ride to the dive site was short, and consequentially, so was our briefing pertaining to the site from the rangers. All of us divers put on our gear and back-rolled from our respective vessels, in which the naming of the dive site became abundantly evident. Even at the surface, the current was stronger than it appeared aboard, and maintaining our position near one another was proving challenging. That’s right; this was to be a drift dive as well as a deep dive, a 2 for 1! At least we would be able to maintain our air better if we didn’t have to kick and allow the current to take us. After we’d acclimated and gathered, we began our descent to be met with deep blue and crystalline water lying over the steep reef. As deep as the light managed, from the still overcast day, were rich and diverse sights of sponge and coral alike. All of which was moving very quickly from our perception as the undertow was significantly faster than the surface currents. Again, the nomenclature of the dive site was taking its toll. Our maximum depth was reached relatively soon, and therefore we did our brief exercises, such as the aforementioned discoloration acknowledgment. Midway through this exercise, however, Amanda Cole was interrupted by something behind us students and franticly pointed to it. The lot of us turned to be met with an incomprehensibly large school of fish roaring and twisting in a spiral.

Gleaming silver from their scales as far as could be seen and in all directions, real animal planet stuff. It appeared as if there was more fish than water before us. To reinstate as well all of this occurred in the picturesque coral bed below us as we were transported through, almost as though it were a marine-themed Disney ride. Incidentally, something that surprised all of us was our instructors eventually pulling a Tupperware from their BCD’s pockets that were full of eggs! Eggs, I tell you! In retrospect, I understand why they brought poultry products; however, my confusion was genuine. The eggs were cracked, and the yolk drifted along with us to truly show how otherworldly being underwater was. We played with the yolk cupped between our hands, passing it to one another, until eventually, Will made the brave decision to take out his regulator and ate the egg yolk whole! What a guy. Our dive ventured onwards, being carried wherever the current chose us to be until we eventually made our way back to the surface in a generally standard procedure. With that being said, those of us who didn’t already become officially Advanced Open Water certified!

The dive team came back to Argo and enjoyed a fantastic lunch to act as a segue between the second dive group’s departure. This allotted for an exchange of study hall times between the groups, besides from the individuals who were enrolled in PSCT in which had their final lecture from our captain. Besides that, an uneventful afternoon excluding those that went diving, I’m told that during the surprise egg party, Brina obliterated her egg as opposed to lightly cracking it. I personally slept under the bowsprit on the martingale until dinner was ready, and I asked my last squeeze question of the trip. For those curious, my question was the hypothetical idea that if we were to partake in an Argo game of hide-n-seek, where would be everyone’s hiding spot? Naturally, all of us most attentively listened to the staff member’s answers, given their familiarity with our vessel.

It feels premature to give my analysis and sentiment of this semester, given that we still have two entire weeks left. Although, this is my last post as skipper to be immortalized on Seamester’s website. As I write this to the readers at home, I find myself coming short of verbiage to adequately describe my experience on this trip. To be a crewmate on Argo has meant to be better in every sense of the word. Being better, for me, has not meant eating healthier or exercising more, but being more considerate of others and showing compassion in ways that aren’t abundantly clear in daily life ashore. It is to give one’s entire being to those around them, not in the interest of self-actualization, but out of necessity for the group’s dynamic. Forgive me if my words come off as too abstract; like I said, the emotions provided are difficult to put into words. Before I made my flight to South Africa to embark on this voyage, feelings of fear or nervousness weren’t uncommon, but seldom were these feelings debilitating. At heart, they stemmed from the fear of journeying through the ocean to lose my mind and find my soul. Corny? Possibly, but it’s the truth that I experienced. As I write now, two months past that date, I find that I’m infinitely more scared to return to home life than I was to depart. I feel that I’m scared to lose that part of myself that I’ve found in these waters, and I feel confident about speaking the same in regard to your respective loved one that I’ve come to know. I’m not certain what direction life will take me after Seamester, but I am certain that I hope it’s not the coolest thing that I do with my life.

Signing off, last time as skipper,

Beau Elliott