Location: Raja Ampat

Today was absolutely amazing. I took over 400 photos (many of which were blurry), and I didn’t even document everything I wanted to.
I woke everyone up to Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson, then played bops for the half-hour leading up to breakfast. Gabe prepared a wonderful Japanese soup and rice, whose name translates to “put tea on it,” which we ate while listening to the mosques around the harbor. During cleanup, I had fun taking everyone’s temperatures, especially those who acted out getting shot with a ray gun while I used the gun-thermometer. Right after cleanup, Gabe taught seamanship, where we learned about speed, distance, and time measurements used by nautical folks. As Gabe went directly into the kitchen to prepare lunch, Amanda “Human” taught Oceanography. We discussed the gases and nutrients dissolved in the oceans and how the different substances affect marine organisms and vice versa.
Between class and lunch, we had a bit of free time, and many of us hung out on the deck in the shade of the mini-tarp above the cockpit. Sydnei and Carolyn sketched out plans for painting mantas on their dry bag and free diving fins, respectively. Lunch was centered around a savory Japanese pancake whose name translates to “fried stuff you like,” which was accompanied by a sauce similar to a steak sauce, rice, and a carrot cabbage salad. During cleanup, I planned some for the equator ceremony and made some origami parrots and paper hats for myself and Sydnei. Then we had more free time, which some of us used to eat Cheetos and play Farkle (shoutout to Hu’s mom for sending it, and D’s family for instilling in her a passion for it). Soon after, Lolo and Amanda C returned from provisioning with a BUTTLOAD of food, much of which was pasta and vacuum-packed rice which had to be Tetris-ed behind the benches. Lolo also scored some totally rad produce, including bananas (scandal!!), kiwis (which certain people ate peels and all), and oranges (from which no one ate the peels).
Most notable from the provisioning expedition was Pocari Sweat, an “Ion Supply Drink,” with unknown ingredients listed in Indonesian. We had lots of fun drinking something other than water, kool-aid, and country time lemonade. We took advertisement-esque photos and had some product placement in others. Packaged in a gorgeous royal blue can with white lettering and a stylish swoosh, Pocari Sweat looks stunning in any photograph. Did they actually sponsor us? No. But spiritually, we felt sponsored by them today.
Finally, we headed to Raja Ampat. I got to direct raising the main staysail, with Lolo as my mentor, and Hu directed raising the forward staysail with Matt as her mentee. It’s definitely a lot to keep track of everything, but I felt very accomplished at the end of the process.
After raising the sails, we had even more free time, which again some of us used to play Farkle and finish the bag of Cheetos. Midway through our game, Amanda informed us we should prepare for the equator ceremony! Per Gabe’s postings in the salon from a few days ago, we all got dressed up in “costumes.” Unfortunately, we did not go on a shore trip to Party City, so most of us elected to wear some combination of Hawaiian shirts, sheets, buffs, beach wraps, hats, and sunglasses. Many of the women wore space buns or pigtails, with sparkly hair clips provided by Kayli. Whitney and Sydnei supplied colorful zinc, which was used to decorate faces and bodies alike. We were so sucked into decorating and dancing to music that we almost missed our call to appear before the Court of Neptune!
We mustered in the cockpit, greeted by some strangely dressed beings. The great Court of Neptune consisted of His Excellency Neptune, Ariel, The Royal Barber, and The Great and Terrible Kraken. Tim, Lolo, Amanda C, and Gabe, staff who had already crossed the equator, were mysteriously missing from the ceremony. The Court declared that we all were mere pollywogs and must each complete a task of their choosing to become shellbacks. We would each choose a number from a ballcap that corresponded to a task.
In order of appearance: Margo was given happy birthday sunglasses and oven mitts to wear for the rest of the ceremony, Preston had Tabasco poured in his mouth, Amelia stuck her hands in the compost bucket, Kayli sang some Bohemian Rhapsody, Bo bobbed for an apple in the composty dishy pit, Justin did an interpretive dance, Ian freestyled slam poetry with The Kraken beatboxing and Amelia providing dolphin noises, Matt bobbed for an apple, Jack was gifted wraparound sunglasses and oven mitts to wear, Will put his hands in the compost bucket, Zack did a jellyfish and a whale impression, Grace searched for olives in a plate of applesauce with only her mouth while blindfolded, Rykleigh got a bucket of salt water dumped on her head, Carly ate straight Tabasco, Whitney sang some 1D, Lucia reluctantly had hot sauce poured on her tongue, Sydnei sat in the dishy pit for 30 seconds, I wore a pfd soaked in dishy pit water for the rest of the ceremony, D wore rain boots with beans and applesauce in them and danced around, Sid did his best eel and manatee impressions, Vivian sat in the dishy pit for 30 seconds, Carolyn chopped off a space bun, Emma cut a lock of hair and wore a dishy pit pfd, Gordon did an interpretive dance with Preston as his partner, Chris sang “I Want It That Way,” Amanda Human did a bean boot dance, and Navarre shaved his head.
Once the ceremony concluded, more people got haircuts, and we also worked on dropping the sails. I helped by finding the crutch for the main staysail and then got on top of the boom to flake the sail. As we flaked, the sun started to set, which was an amazing view. We all sat and watched the sunset from the cockpit and on top of the chart house. Margo, Justin, and I played some ukulele and sang along to “I’m Yours,” “I Lava You,” and “Over the Rainbow.” After dropping anchor, we had a delicious curry with rice for dinner. The squeeze question was, “What was a moment when you saw the light at the end of the tunnel for a struggle you were going through?” I felt I knew people better at the end of the conversation.
Overall it was an absolutely phenomenal day!

1. Sydnei, myself, and Gabe are modeling for a Pocari Sweat ad. It belongs in Times Square.
2. The Court of Neptune (Kraken, Ariel, Neptune, Royal Barber).
3. A gorgeous action shot of Rykleigh getting soaked.