July 9, 2018
Today has been another great day aboard the R/V Revelle. Though I still struggled to get out of bed so early in the morning (and probably always will). My watch after breakfast was nice because it was very fast paced. Halfway through my watch, we surfaced and began to prepare for another dive. Katie Gonzalez and I, who share a watch, were heading to the galley when we saw a stream of water falling mysteriously from the sky. Katie and I decided to follow the vertical labyrinth of stairs to a secret deck on the top of bridge where we found some of the ships crew scrubbing the floor. It was sort of a surreal site- 3 real life sailors scrubbing the deck on one of the most beautiful days you could imagine. Supposedly, they were even singing sea shanties before we got there. It made me feel like I had passed through some sort of portal into a novel about pirates. After getting permission from the Captain, we asked if we could join them. The crew seemed completely baffled as to why we would want to join in on what they considered just another job to do for work. It was strange to think that people could consider washing what I later learned was called the flying bridge was normal as it was so out of the box for me.
From the flying bridge, we were able to see when the floating SPA came near the starboard side of the ship. Since we were already up there, the Captain allowed us to use some of the binoculars in the bridge to get a great view of them collecting the floating science pod. We also spotted a plastic jug floating through the seas. It looked as though there was something in it, as well, so I am convinced it was a message in a bottle, waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, it was too far away to recover, and we were not able to be the ones to recover it.
After lunch, Bing Yu Lee, Katie Gonzalez, and I worked on getting the RAS/PPS ready to be shipped back to the University of Washington to be thoroughly cleaned. While it certainly would have been a tedious job to do alone, it was a lot of fun working with friends on deck, especially on such a gorgeous day.
July 8, 2018
Leg 2 has certainly had its difficulties. From problems with the ship’s positioning system, to a flu that has been going around since the start of the leg, to power outages on Jason and Virtual Van crashing, this leg has encountered some very odd and quite bad luck. Worst of all has to what happened to the EOM connector. When trying to replace one instrument with another, the plug in on the EOM cable suddenly stopped working. Though we tried for hours, we were unable to plug it in. We even went back several days later and tried to plug the cable in again, but we were again unable to do so. We were forced to recover both of the new instruments we had installed at that platform. We will not be able to fix or replace this until next year.
Another nugget of bad luck has been the weather. It is perfectly smooth and clear as I write this, but it is expected to go South very quickly. Because of that, we will most likely be coming into port a day early in order to avoid the brunt of the weather. However, this plan isn’t set in stone- nothing on the ship ever is. Given the string of bad luck, I had expected that we might be behind on our dives and was shocked when I heard we would be coming in a day early. After asking when we will make up the lost dives, I learned that we will be able to complete all of the dives we had scheduled and may actually be throwing in a “bonus” dive at Endurance Offshore to hopefully recover a BEP.
Looking back, I am not actually sure why I thought we were behind on dives. Surely if we were, people would be talking about it. I know that it is important for us to avoid bad weather, but I love being on the ship so much that I am a bit sad we will have to come in early.
July 7, 2018
I barely have any idea what day it is anymore. I had to look at a calendar to figure out the date to put at the top of this blog. It feels like it has both been a few days and a few weeks since we left Newport, but neither is true. The days have simply blended together.
This afternoon, right after my watch, I decided to take a nap. I woke up to my alarm at 2 pm and was so groggy that I nearly started getting ready for my 8 am watch before realizing my phone read 2, not 7:15. Still convinced it was early in the morning, I wrongly got mad at my roommate Katie Gonzalez for “switching” my alarm to 2. We both decided to sleep until 3 without fully realizing what was going on.
I am not convinced that there is a single person on the ship that feels fully rested. I once asked someone how they slept, and they replied with a forced chuckle and a roll of their eyes. There is so much going on at all times, that it is simply too easy to get swept up in it and, hours later, ask yourself when the last time you slept was.
It has become increasingly difficult to write blogs about my daily life as I so easily forget when something actually happened. On occasion, the students will sit around and ask each other, “When did this happen? Did that actually happen this morning?” Because of this, I cannot promise that everything that I put into my blogs will be accurate or put into chronological order, but I will try my best.
It feels silly to make such sweeping generalizations about “ship time” versus “real time,” especially after just a week since leaving port, but being aboard the R/V Revelle seems completely different from being in the “real world”. It seems impossible to explain this to people that have never been on a ship for an extended period of time before. I am so lucky to be able to experience this for myself.
July 5, 2018
Today felt huge. I practically crawled out of bed this morning having slept very poorly the night before. This morning’s watch was tough, and I had to battle my tiredness the entire time. The dive was also frustrating as we were launching a new JBOX, but the area where it was supposed to go was rocky, rough, and not at all level, so it was a struggle to fins a good place for it.
Lunch was great, though. Homemade pizza by the chefs really perked me up and prepared me for the rest of my day. Katie Gonzalez showed me how to make dive highlight videos, which is something she worked on during last years cruise as well as in chief scientist Deb Kelley’s lab at the University of Washington. Soon, we were assigned to create a new video- one that detailed the failed attempts of connecting a cable to an EOM during dive J1060. This was intended to be sent ashore so that engineers could review it in the hopes of figuring out what went wrong and how they can fix it.
The lessons that Katie G. had given me earlier in the day definitely came in handy. As everyone else had other projects to work on, I ended up being the one to compress nearly 10 hours of footage into half an hour. Having never used the software before, never having done a project like that before, and the sheer amount of footage to go through, I felt completely overwhelmed at the beginning. However, once I actually got started I realized that it wasn’t actually all that hard. Granted, what I was doing was very basic, but easier than I had expected for someone with no experience. It didn’t take me nearly as long as I had expected to edit it down to about 30 minutes. After that, I turned the video over to Katie Bigham to finish editing it and send it out.
Let us hope that my watch tonight will go better than the one in the morning!
July 4, 2018
I believe that I took on too much yesterday. I understand that I am incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to work on the Cabled Array with such intelligent and important people and because of that, sometimes I stretch myself too thin by attempting to do everything.
This morning I got up, grabbed some breakfast, and went to my shift. However, we were in between dives when we started so I was able to read a book while I waited for the next dive to begin. We were sending down the MASSP-RAS/PPS, which looks incredibly complicated. It is used to sample water, but anything more specific about what it does is beyond me despite having it explained to me several times by others. I will have to ask again soon and see if I can put everything together in a way that makes more sense.
After my dive, I went to lunch and totally crashed. I meant to take a small nap, but I ended up sleeping for a full 4 hours. I woke up to the smell of smoke. It seemed so out of place to me that it took an embarrassingly long time for me to realize it was coming from the barbeque. To celebrate the 4th of July, the chefs made an American classic – hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, and strawberry shortcake. While the rest of the day felt nothing like the 4th of July to me, dinner made me miss my parents.
Today was dedicated to some much-needed rest. Oddly enough, my afternoon nap was some of the best sleep that I have gotten onboard and I feel completely refreshed and rejuvenated now. I hadn’t realized how worn out I was. I will take this experience as a warning from myself to make sure that I am getting enough rest.
July 3, 2018
My new shift for the 2nd leg is from 8 am until noon, meaning that I have to get up early and go to breakfast. These hours aren’t actually that bad. In fact, I believe that it is one of the more coveted positions on the ship. However, I am used to skipping breakfast entirely and waking up just a few hours before lunch. This schedule seems to work perfectly for me, however with some of the strategic naps ™ I mentioned in the last blog, I am sure to make this new schedule work as well.
My shift didn’t go well for reasons other than lack of sleep, though. In the dive before mine, something had gone wrong and they were unable to connect a cable despite working at it for 3 hours. Understandably, tensions were high as a new dive began at the same time as my shift. A little after 8, Jason descended with MJ03B, a Junction Box. We reached about 700 meters down before being forced to come back up. While heading to the sea floor, some of the cable had come loose and was falling down. We had to resurface and bring the JBOX back on deck to re-secure the cable.
Right before my shift ended, we finally reached the bottom with MJ03B. I was really impressed with how well everyone in the control van handled it. Instead of just getting upset, everyone set aside their frustrations to focus on coming up with the best possible solution.
After lunch, I helped Julie Nelson and Katie Gonzalez clean off a PIA and a SPA from the Shallow Profiler Mooring. These had both been in the water since last summer before being recovered this year and were quite covered in stringy, hair vegetation that made our hands smell like fish.
During my 8 pm to midnight shift, Jason descended with a new CAMHD to take the place of the old one. I learned from Katie Bigham that this is the only device of its kind at the moment, so that made everything extra exciting. The camera sits at the base of Mushroom, a hydrothermal vent and captures the gas being released into the water.
After a quick midnight snack in the galley, Katie Gonzalez and I headed down to the Analytical Lab where we cleaned a salt pump for Katie Bigham and got it ready to be sent back to the University of Washington. After such a long day (and another one coming tomorrow), I am definitely ready for bed. Despite this, I am half-tempted to go back to the control van and watch as they finish this dive and explore the Virgin vent, another hydrothermal vents. The dives at the sea floor, especially in unique places and conditions like this one, are always my favorite. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on when you ask me) that 7:15 alarm is telling me to go to sleep.
July 2, 2018
One necessary skill that I have developed for ship-living is strategic naps. According to others I have talked to, this is a very common skill that one learns early on in their time on the water. On land, I hate naps as they tend to ruin the entire day for me. On the water, naps seem nearly as important as food. Even closing your eyes for 10 minutes can make a huge difference in the rest of your day. Here, there isn’t really a “day” or “night”. Instead, it seems to be closer to “dark” and “light”. While I tend to sleep during the darker portion of the day, this is not always the case.
Another habit that I have picked up is putting all of my food into comically huge bowls and eating them from there. When I first got on board, I saw many of the ship’s crew getting one bowl and putting their whole meal into it instead of giving each food sections on a plate. I thought it was totally bizarre. Now, I do this for many of my meals. It all started when I felt a little dizzy, so I decided to eat outside. As I was walking outside, I noticed that the wind was attempting to wrestle with me for control of the contents on my plate. From then on, I have been putting my lunch and dinner into bowls rather than on plates. It just makes everything so much easier, even when eating inside.
When I was on board last year, everyone was instructed to take “NAVY showers”. A NAVY shower is when you hop in the shower and get wet, then turn the water off to soap up. Rinse off, towel off, and you are done. (I asked my stepfather about this since he was in the NAVY and he confirmed that this is indeed how they shower.) This is done in an effort to conserve water and, from my own experience at least, it does the job well. Not only do you not waste the water you would as you soap up, but it also trims down the length of your shower as well. As someone that is deeply concerned about sustainability, this is a habit that I adopted for the ship but took home with me. I wonder how else my experience on the Revelle will shape my life when I get on land. It will be interesting to see how I change from this.
July 1, 2018
Today was not at all what I was expecting. This morning was very slow. Since we left port at 4 pm, I struggled to find something to do in the morning. I worried that I was merely taking up space. Katie Gonzalez, Bing Yu Lee, and I retreated to the lounge and decided to watch Kedi, a documentary about cats in Istanbul. (Great movie, by the way.) When a few other members of the science party joined us, I realized that I wasn’t being an inconvenience, but that we just had some down time.
About an hour before we left port, I saw Paul Aguilar doing something with a long piece of rope. Always interested in learning to tie new knots, I asked if I could help him. Katie Gonzalez joined as well, and we learned to make a new knot, the name of which has already escaped me. I was horrible at it, but Katie G. has always been great at knots and learned this new one in no time. We used this new knot to create handles for the BEP doors.
One detail that often goes unnoticed about engineering is how much of it is actually done by hand. Handles made from rope and baskets secured with zip ties on a highly sophisticated machine seem out of place somehow, but the more that I spend time on this research cruise, I realize that is just the way things are. These are experiments still, not mass-produced machines. All of this makes engineering far more appealing to me somehow.
While we were making handles, the ship set sail. Originally, we were going to launch the BEP at the 80 meter site, which was only about an hour away from Newport. Unfortunately, when we got there the wind was too rough for us to dive. Secretly, I was quite relieved. I was supposed to be on shift then, but I was feeling surprisingly nauseous and dizzy. I am shocked by how poorly my body is handling going to sea again. Having been out on the water for over a week, I thought that I would have been well acclimated. Instead, I felt worse today than I had on the first leg. Luckily, with some sleep and more food in my stomach, I am feeling better.
June 30, 2018
Today was a strange day. I attempted to write a blog yesterday, but was left with the same strange feeling that I have today. I cannot believe that Leg 1 has officially ended and that the people that were exclusively on the first leg are already either on their way home, or already at home. I am incredibly grateful that I am able to experience this adventure for multiple legs.
Yesterday, we pulled into Newport again. It was an absolutely beautiful day- the weather could not possibly have been better. I felt like the town deserved to be on the cover of a magazine for tourism or mailing as we docked. The land was lush and green, the sky clear and blue, and the water tame and clean.
Yesterday, Katie Gonzalez and I attempted to go to the beach in Newport. I swear I went to the beach last year but, as it turns out, I had no idea where it was. We ended up at the jetty and the fishing dock, which was still quite fun. We climbed some of the rocks on the jetty, which was a bit like very easy, horizontal rock climbing. (As you may be able to tell, this is being written by someone that has never gone rock climbing.
Today, many of the student scientists from Leg 1 left to begin the rest of their summers. Meeting them all was absolutely spectacular, and I am very glad I was able to share that with them. I cannot wait to meet up in the Fall. In their place, a few new students came on board. They all seem very nice and very eager to get to sea. I am excited for what will come next.
For dinner, the chief engineer Ray Rodriguez took Katie Gonzalez, a wiper named Aiden, and I out to a truly spectacular Italian restaurant. I cannot believe his generosity and wish that there was some way to thank him more. Aiden is part of the ship’s crew and this was a great chance to get to know both of them better.
While I was in town, I noticed that I would find myself gently swaying side to side. I probably looked like a complete madman, but according to Katie G, no one else noticed. I don’t think that I experienced this last year, but honestly, I am not sure. Maybe I did and just never realized it. I certainly wouldn’t call it being “sick” though. Instead, you are just left with a feeling of knowing that something isn’t quite right.
Tomorrow, at approximately 4 pm, we will leave for sea again. It is still a bit unbelievable to me that I am able to do this for a full 6 weeks. It took a few days after we set sail the first time to even convince myself that the first leg was real. As silly as it sounds, I am giddy to set sail once again.