Location: Les Saintes

We woke to a still morning brightened by a clear sky, nestled in a cove among the islands of Les Saintes off the southern tip of Guadeloupe. As we ate breakfast on Argo, floating above 22 meters of crystal blue sea, we anticipated what the day had in store. Off the bat, we had an introduction to sail theory facilitated by the first mate, Gabe. We discussed the details of sail physics, walked through the history and development of sailing vessels across the Atlantic and Pacific basins, and outlined the “points of sail” – how to optimize the orientation of the sails given the prevailing winds and the target direction of the vessel. This primer led straight into an exploration of the sails aboard, in particular, how to use our intuition to figure out which halyards are associated with which sails.

All in all, the morning was a session that gave us an enhanced understanding and appreciation for how sailing vessels work, from the theoretical to the practical. What an amazing history and development lies behind the sailing we have experienced on this trip! Just before lunch, we took an hour-long break to lounge, rest, and prepare and practice our talents {or “talentless talents”) for tomorrow night’s swizzle. I can’t wait to see what everyone has come up with – from the little tidbits I could see and hear. It is going to be a blast.

In the afternoon, we glided between two activities that allowed us to dive into the marine life existing in the depths where we were anchored, from microscopic to the more visible. Some of us performed a plankton tow off the starboard aft rail of Argo – the net dropped to 10 meters, and in the end, we collected a glass dish filled with seawater that contained wriggling specks. Curious to enter a more hidden world of ocean life, we carried the dish to the salon, where Argo’s onboard microscope was waiting. Poring over some (still undetermined but captivating) gelatinous squares and what we decided were orange crustacean larvae; we gained a new window into the local biology – the reference books onboard provided a welcome resource. Some decided to pencil sketch the cool critters they observed through the magnifying lens. What a treat, then, to zoom out of the microscopic life teeming in our collected dish and into a snorkeling expedition to the nearshore reef! We floated over barrel sponges, damselfish, brain coral, and trumpet fish. At times, a pelican, sensing a tasty treat, would dive beak-first into the sea surface off of the cliffs above the reef. The nearshore current flowed lazily to the northwest. If you fancied a sublimely relaxing sensation, you could simply stop swimming and let the ocean carry you over the beautiful marine life collected on the seafloor. No notes, Les Saintes.

Post-snorkel, we prepared to lift the anchor and enjoyed a delicious dinner perched over the sunset. It was a clear night, and the sky to the west had that soothing combination of color that you can only find over the open sea – burnt orange fading upward into a light purple that feels limitless. As we sailed northwest towards Antigua, over the lightly rolling ocean, it certainly felt like a cozy home as the chatter of dinner cleanup filled the air against a background of waves breaking onto the hull.