Elizabeth Pesar’s Blogs Leg 3

July 17, 2018
Last full day out at sea!

Today I had the pleasure of sleeping in for most of the morning, missing ship’s breakfast, and making the official ship’s lunch my breakfast. The jambalaya and chocolate chip oatmeal raisin cookies were fantastic. Apparently there was a small welding-related fire last night around 03:00 which set off the fire alarm, which I slept right through. Both good and very bad. I found out that they had to have a whole extra dive in order to fix the problem of the pin not securing. As of now, it’s in place.

Today we went to the next CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) spot. I was definitely feeling the turbulence, but wasn’t nauseous. Much. If you don’t have your valuables battened down, now is the time to do that because things will roll. Leland, Emilio, Ashley and I helped prime the CTD. In a word, OUCH. The tops and bottoms of each individual cylinder of the CTD are secured by really strong springs. You have to hold each open lid down while using a loop to lasso a hook in the center of the apparatus. If you fail to hold the lid, it could snap down on your fingers. This, I was lucky to avoid. Barely. We had to secure the bottom lids with a clip. From a distance, I got to watch the CTD apparatus get deployed. After the CTD was retrieved, we all got to work bottling seawater samples, and preparing them for analysis in the seawater lab. To help with oxygen analysis, the seawater samples in the flasks had MnCl2 and NaINaOH added to them. We all definitely got wet.

Dinner was Taco Tuesday! Fried fish, guacamole, lots of different salsas, and everything that goes with it. Also delicious were the blueberry scones the chefs prepared. What’s interesting is it’s so easy to get full on the ship, for whatever reason. For me, eating two meals a day seems to be the more comfortable option. Turned out that there were no more JASON dives scheduled for today. I’m sad to head into port but, man do I need to stretch my legs.

Also of note: the two evenings I managed to step outside to try and look at the stars were overcast. Which is disappointing. But, I finally saw a pod of dolphins!

July 16, 2018

Weather today was more agitated than the day before, and really overcast. This morning, we deployed the zoom platform. It literally got shoved off the edge of the ship, tethered to 200 m of rope. From my vantage point, it looked like it had been completely lost. The mechanical legs are going to be attached to it  The whole operation went perfectly thanks to the res techs and engineers. After my shift ended at 11:00, all of us students got a tour of JASON, and visited the control van, which looked for all the world like mission control. A dark room, lit only by a multitude of luminous screens whose images I am not yet able to interpret.

Lunch was a masterpiece, as per usual. Beef teriyaki and fried rice. We had a 14:00 meeting with Orest, right before JASON was set to begin its first dive at 14:30. We are also having our first watches in the control van, which will be about 4 hours at a time.

I enjoyed hearing the other students formally explain their projects. Matthew and Spencer (both engineers) are putting together an instructional video of the how-to’s of the mooring aspects of the dive. Leland and Ashley are creating a docu-series of all 4 legs of the cruise. I really hope to see the final versions of all their hard work. I mentioned to Orest about how the nomenclature of the ship and its equipment was tripping me up, and he was gracious enough to put a dictionary of sorts into our shared science folder.

I finally managed to attend Yoga class hosted by Captain Dave. Lots of fun, will likely wake up sore, will do it again tomorrow. After dinner, I worked with Katie and Eve in Julie’s lab filtering chlorophyll from seawater. The really fun part was doing it in semi-darkness so as not to degrade it.

My and Ashley’s JASON watch began at 20:00 and ended at 00:00. (Pro tip: Bring a blanket!) What with the movement of the boat, it felt like we were on a plane. We were stationed in the van documenting JASON’s dives. My job was to watch the video coming from the live camera feed (at about 200 m), record video, time stamp the beginning and ends of different activities, and take some notes regarding each activity. It was very satisfying to see the platform I saw it get pushed off the ship in the morning now be floating in the sea. I got to see the second half of the first dive through the first half of the second dive. We got to see so many strange creatures, mostly deep-water fish, jellies, shrimp, and squids. A fairly depressing number of plastic bags. Things went perfectly well for the first dive. I got to go outside and see a glowing JASON being hauled out from the depths like a mythical monster. I got great video. The dive after this one was a bit more glitchy. Descent was fine, and the profiler installation began well, but a pin used to secure part of the instrumentation wouldn’t click into place. This required the presence of seemingly half the engineers on board in the control van. At the time our shift ended, the problem had not yet been solved.

July 15, 2018

Woke up feeling the motion of the boat but my nausea was almost entirely gone. So I guess my brain’s learned to compensate for the floor always moving. Yay! Still have a dry mouth, however. I managed to comfortably have a nice breakfast and lunch. Ashley and I had our documentation shift from 08:00-11:00. I spent my morning filming and taking pictures of the crew assembling the mooring for JASON. No sharks, dolphins, or whales yet. It was fun seeing how the team worked seamlessly together to fit the mooring together. My afternoon was spent with Julie in her lab performing seawater oxygen titration analyses. I love lab work, so this was right up my alley. The repetitiveness and order of the tasks give me great comfort. Emilio seemed to get a huge kick out of the engineering aspects of the mooring. We should be seeing JASON’s control van tomorrow. Hopefully JASON gets deployed tomorrow.

Of note: Sunday is also BBQ day. But sadly no Yoga. After the delicious BBQ, I went back up to the crow’s nest to meditate on the expanse of only air and water in any direction. It’s humbling not having any dry land for 100’s of kilometers, under a sky and above an ocean that does not care about your survival. It’s beautiful and terrifying. Later, I got to enjoy the extensive collection of the ship’s library. Been ages since I sat down to leaf through a book.

Also of note: I barely register the boat rocking anymore.

July 14, 2018
First day out of port!

I put on a seasick patch the night before and woke up feeling extremely disoriented with a slight headache, super sore throat, and very dry mouth. The medication affects everyone differently and I seem to be one of the lucky ones whose medication side effects may be worse than actual seasickness. I hope to be able to get rid of the patch soon. I had to walk very carefully to the Mess to avoid bumping into things. I feel like I’m coming down with a bad cold.

We began the day with a breakfast as delicious as dinner was the night before. I really enjoyed the bottomless fruit salads and the always-fresh coffee. Also making me happy was the non-presence of decaf coffee.

Spoke with Julie at breakfast about her work as a chemistry professor and how that got her aboard the Roger Revelle. She’s a chemist not an oceanographer, which underscores the need for people of diverse backgrounds and specializations on the cruise.  The science crew consists mostly of oceanographers, geologists (hi!), and engineers. Everyone brings something slightly different and important to this journey.

Morning duties included setting up our account on the Scripps network, safety meeting at 10 AM (this ship runs on diesel and coffee, and apparently ping pong paddles have been discovered in the septic tank), and the last bit of laundry and shower at port. We were originally meant to leave at 2 PM, but that got scrubbed to 3.

I had meant to go to Yoga at 4 but that obviously wasn’t in the cards because I got sick as a dog soon after the ship cast off, and we did our abandon ship drill. Stayed in bed, couldn’t hold down any food and missed dinner. I think I have to respectfully disagree with Julie: you can definitely lose weight on this ship. And I’m now feeling lucky I have more patches.


July 13, 2018

First day aboard the R/V Roger Revelle, and am left surprised and overwhelmed. Never having set foot aboard a ship, I made an effort to have as few expectations as possible. I never thought I’d have the privilege of working aboard a research vessel, but life comes with many pleasant surprises. I’m almost completely new to the West Coast; the drive through Oregon was lovely and the weather perfect. I enjoyed it greatly despite my tiredness of having hiked up Mt. Rainier only a few days prior. I have heard horror stories and was worried about seasickness, and came armed with an excess of ear patches, one of which I am wearing. I loved seeing the clear dedication of scientists, and the tight orderliness of the ship itself. Skip and Orest did an excellent job of the ship’s onboard instruments, but I know remembering everything will be a challenge. Skip was kind enough to give us an overview of JASON’s toolkit and abilities. Katie and Eve gave a wonderful overview of the ship’s day to day operations. Everyone I’ve met has been super friendly, obviously intelligent, and driven to do science. The student group spent the evening playing cards and Monopoly. I love that there’s Yoga at 4 PM Monday-Saturday.

Our dinner was delicious. Again, had no expectations when it came to ship’s food but was extremely satiated. Squash, salad, roast potatoes and freshly made bread definitely hit the spot. 10/10. Snacks are available 24/7 in the Mess. As Julie noted, “forget about losing weight aboard the ship!” We have a mandatory safety/pre-cruise meeting tomorrow at 10 AM, and cast off at 2 PM.

My days are going to be full with blogging, putting together a video for the Queens College School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, putting together a research project (and hopeful AGU presentation) for this Fall, learning about the Roger Revelle, Axial Seamount, and the Cabled Array, and learning the art and science of data extrapolation with Python. I’ll be working close with Emilio to put together the research project and video for our department. I’m really eager to explore the directions this cruise takes me and hope to be able to do some star gazing while we’re away from all the light pollution. The big goal for Leg 3 is to install the two-legged shallow profile mooring. Since I want to earn a PhD in planetary science, my personal goal is gain experience with remote sensing instrumentation and data interpretation very similar to what is performed aboard vessels such as the Roger Revelle.

Can’t wait to cast off tomorrow!