August 1, 2018
We have made it to August 1st- the start of the transit days to Seattle. We had one last dive this morning (meaning one last 4am watch). We were looking at the deep profiler at Slope Base. It had stopped working and we were trying to see if we could figure out why. However, after watching it struggle to move up from the docking station for a little while, JASON used one of its manipulators to move it up the cable. After that, it seemed to work perfectly.
As far as last dives go, this was a rather mundane one. Almost the entirety of the dive was going down to 2922 meters (9586 feet) and then coming up from it again. However, I am very glad that the deep profiler is working again. It seems that it had just docked wrong. Hopefully this is a rare problem and not one that will happen again anytime soon as we won’t be able to fix it after the cruise ends.
The rest of the day has no plans. I will work on editing and organizing videos some more as well as cleaning my room and getting ready to depart. Packing up feels strange. Though I have only been here for 6 weeks, it has felt like much, much longer.
July 31, 2018
Last night I made a mistake that I have been paying for today. We had intended to go to the hydrothermal vent El Guapo during the late-night dive yesterday. Seeing as I had missed seeing El Guapo during Leg 2, I was excited for the prospect of seeing the 15-meter-tall mammoth of a vent. As the experience of watching dives is always improved by watching them live and in the van- it makes you feel as though you are really there, under the water!- I decided to stay up to watch, even though I knew it would be very early in the morning.
Unfortunately, at about 1 am they decided to abort the dive before going to El Guapo and surface again. This meant that I had stayed up until 1am for little reason. I went to bed for what was essentially a 2 hour nap before waking at 3am for my shift. My shift in the control van was not the most exciting this morning. Most of it was just going up and down the water column. However, I was impressed by how awake I felt during it considering how badly I had miscalculated the night before. I am finally getting used to this schedule. Unfortunately, there will most likely only be one more JASON dive.
Most of the day was spent in transit. This allowed me to work on highlight videos, reference videos, and working on my project. I finalized some questions as well as gave Skip Denny, who is in charge of making sure we avoid bad weather to get the most amount of work accomplished, an interview for my mini video about weather on the ship.
Before dinner, I attended a yoga session with Captain Dave Murline. I had been wanting to do this since the beginning of the cruise but somehow never quite got around to it. For some reason, I found myself being slightly intimidated by it. However, I had a great time and am very glad that I opened myself up to the experience.
Tomorrow morning begins our last dive for this year. It seems so strange that all of this is ending soon. While I feel that I have been here for far longer than 6 weeks at this point, it still seems like everything is ending extremely quickly. I still can’t figure out if I am more excited to go home or more sad to be leaving.
July 30, 2018
The last few days have been a strange blend of emotions. I am not quite sure which I feel more strongly at this point- the desire to go home and be with my family or to stay on the ship and continue learning so much about engineering and oceanography. I looked at the calendar today and was shocked to learn that there were only 4 more days until we pull into port in Seattle.
We have only a few more JASON dives for this year and, after that, all of our energy needs to turn to packing everything on the ship so that it is ready to offload when we get to port. According to those that have done it last year, offloading is crazy and hectic, so it is best to be totally prepared when we get into port. Thankfully, the transit to Seattle is a long one that should grant us plenty of time to organize, clean, and pack everything that we will need.
July 28, 2018
I went to bed last night far, far too late after being distracted by playing games in the library with several other students. In addition, when I went to bed it was uncertain whether I would have a morning watch. I was startled awake this morning at a few minutes until 4 by my roommate Katie Gonzalez who informed me that my watch was starting, and I needed to be there. Apparently, Wendi Ruef, my watch leader, had tried to call to wake me up, but I had slept through it. I quickly threw on clothes (the same clothes I wore yesterday- I hope no one noticed) and headed to the control van.
JASON was just surfacing when my watch started, so I only caught the tail end of the dive. They had to recover the deep profiler they had launched just a few days ago due to the CPU on it not working. Because plans were very up in the air and no one was certain when the next dive would be, Evan Davis and I stayed up in case we would be needed. While half-asleep me was quite upset about this at the time, I am now grateful for the 15 minutes I was needed this morning as it gave me time to work on editing highlight videos, something that I had been putting off on account of being uncertain exactly what I should be looking for when I edit them.
I woke up to a pizza party in the galley. The chefs made a veggie pizza just for Katie Gonzalez and I, who are both vegetarians. I am always grateful when they go out of their way for us. I can’t imagine being a chef for ~60 people, three meals a day. We had another fire drill after lunch. This time, we went to through an escape hatch from the 2 level up to the main deck. I learned that the escape hatches are harder to climb up than they seem.
After the fire drill, Julie Nelson held a student meeting. We got our plans in order for leaving the ship on August 4th as well as talked about getting the finishing touches for our student projects, most of which will be due at the end of Fall quarter. I am feeling okay about my project right now. Hopefully, I have everything that I need before getting off the ship.
July 27, 2018
Today was another very low key day, at least for me. When I woke up at around 11, JASON was in the water doing a survey of several hydrothermal vent locations. These are by far my favorite type of dive- without much of a plan, JASON is just able to explore underwater to scout out locations or see if anything has changed. I spent several hours in the control van watching JASON go around several vents, including Inferno and Mushroom.
Unfortunately, just as we were about to head to the Hell site for another survey, Captain Dave Murline came in and warned us about weather. We had originally done the survey as a way of waiting for the weather to get better, as it was supposed to improve throughout the day. Sadly, the weather worsened, and we were forced to recover JASON.
Instead of deploying COVIS as we had hoped to do, we ended up transiting back to the site we were at the day before to recover the recently launched deep profiler. The CPU in it was not working, so we are going to replace the CPU and redeploy the crawler. Engineering is fascinating, but I find myself more drawn to the hydrothermal vents. They look more like a fantasy land than a real place on earth. I hope that we will be able to finish the survey of the vents at ASHES.
July 25 & 26, 2018
Yesterday would have been a good day had I not been so exhausted I found myself nodding off several times throughout the day. I need to get better at organizing my sleep schedule, but it can be really tricky when there is so much going on that I feel I need to be a part of. Yesterday started off with a JASON dive, followed by a CTD and sample collecting and processing. We did oxygen titrations as well as filtering for chlorophyll. I tried playing a game with the other students after helping with the chlorophyll samples but ended up quitting the game shortly after it had begun and heading to bed.
Today has been a lot less hectic, though, and I have taken the initiative to catch up on some very missed sleep. Because the dive was projected to start at 7am, I did not have to wake up until about 6:15. It is amazing how much these extra few hours helped me. In reality, the dive did not start until just before 8, so I was able to take the time to go up to the bridge and get help on my project from Captain Dave Murline.
I then headed to bed again until lunch. Unfortunately, JASON was having some balance issues, meaning they had to take it out from the water in order to figure out the best way to ensure the weight is even in the water. Because of this, there was not much going on after lunch. I worked a little with Katie Gonzalez on the project we share together, but then I realized that it was another perfect opportunity to grab some extra sleep and took a nap.
After dinner, all was going well. JASON was in the water again, so I was in my shift in the control van. The dive wrapped up just at 8pm, when the next shift (Romina Cennturion and Jasmine Durant) was supposed to take over. After recovering the deep profiler crawler, we moved the ship into position and Julie Nelson and Orest Kawka were able to start the CTD cast. We didn’t collect any samples for the first cast- it was just to get a survey of the water column. We collected 24 samples at 12 different depths for the second cast. Because we were headed down to 2600 meters, it took about 3 hours just for the CTD casts. We started collecting the samples after 1am. Luckily, it was a very pleasant night and I knew that I did not have a shift at 4am.
July 24, 2018
Today started off well. I didn’t have a shift again this morning which allowed me to sleep in until lunch time. After lunch, I went on deck to help with documenting the deep profiler installation. I was even able to help undo yale grips on the DP cable. This was slightly terrifying as you have to stand on a scaffold in order to do so. Normally this would not be an issue, but when it is strapped down to a moving vehicle, it becomes a slightly different story.
I then went into the JASON control van to watch as they released the anchor to the deep profiler. They had some issues in terms of positioning, though. At 4, we started a new dive and Evan Davis and I began our shift.
The beginning of our shift was extremely boring. For 2 hours, JASON descended 2900 meters and we saw nothing but water and marine snow in the cameras. Not the best thing to watch if you are already tired. At times, I feel that the JASON control van was designed with the intention of putting people to sleep- cold air, soft noises, dim lighting, and the gentle swaying of the ship all work together to make it a great place to nap, but not the best place to fight against sleep.
The last half of our shift picked up significantly, though, but not entirely for the best. It appears that there is not enough slack in the cable to connect it to the deep profiler in its current position. We would be easily able to solve this if we had extension cable. Unfortunately, this cable is still in Seattle. Our best bet would probably be to redeploy the deep profiler in a better position.
The engineers are still trying to solve the issue. I am constantly amazed by how hard they work. Some of them seem to never sleep, an attribute that I am quite jealous of. But because I do need sleep, it is off to bed I go in order to prepare to wake up at 3 in the morning.
July 23, 2018
My 4am watch feels better today. I went to bed at a more reasonable time and woke up slightly earlier to give myself more time to get ready and adjust. Our dive this morning went better than we could have imagined. Originally projected to take about 6 hours, we managed to get it done in just about 2 hours. This is because we had apparently done most of the work last year, which made recovering the deep profiler much easier. After the dive, I worked on highlight videos until about 8am, when I went back to bed.
When I woke up after lunch, everything was different. The deep profiler had already been recovered and we were in transit back to Endurance Offshore, where we had been the day before. There, we did another plankton tow and a CTD cast. We will still be deploying the second deep profiler at Slope Base tomorrow morning, but we were able to fit these into the schedule while we worked on updating the DP. This just goes to show how fast plans can change when you are on a ship.
Helping with the plankton tow today was a lot more fun than it was a few days again. This is primarily because it was not freezing cold this time. Additionally, everyone had more confidence in what they were doing so it was easier. After we had the frame set up, I helped Julie Nelson very quickly clean off the buoy that was attached to the deep profiler this morning. Then I went back to working on the plankton tow and helped Katie Gonzalez keep track of the times when she needed to measure the angle of the line.
After the recovery of the plankton tow, I helped the res-techs Josh Manger and Ken Olsen with a very important task- deploying the XBT probe. This was a slightly scary but very interesting experience. I am glad that I was entrusted to help with this and hope that I will be able to help other students deploy these probes in the future.
I then helped Romina Cennturion and Wu Jung Lee with preparing the samples from the plankton tow. I worked with Romina on filtering out the excess seawater and making what is essentially a concentrate of plankton that we then labeled and separated into jars. Katie Gonzalez then added formaldehyde for preservation and baking soda to buffer the acidity.
Looking through what we had collected was a lot of fun. Jellies, squid, krill, and larvae were all collected. Unfortunately, there was also a lot of plastic. Some were in large chunks, but more often it was in tiny, almost invisible to the eye, pieces. If I were a fish, I could easily see mistaking the brightly colored microplastics for food. It was really sad to see something like that with my own eyes.
After dinner, I helped with the CTD cast. I am getting pretty good at watching the screen in the computer lab with Julie Nelson. It is actually a lot of fun to watch them go down, though. The live updates on readings like salinity, temperature, and chlorophyll levels are also very interesting to watch. After the CTD came back on deck, I helped with sampling. The new students did most of the sampling while Julie took photos and I helped delegate which sample should come from which niskin. Being the person in charge of logging the samples always makes me feel important for some reason, though it is a job that anyone could do.
All in all, today was a great day. It was very productive, very interesting, and a lot of fun. Additionally, I will not have a morning shift tomorrow, so I will be able to stay up a little later and sleep in tomorrow morning, something that I am very much looking forward to.
July 22, 2018
I was relieved that I did not have a watch this morning and it allowed me to sleep in. I woke up just before lunch. Considering I will probably end up going to bed before 10 in order to wake up early for tomorrow, this feels very strange to me. I may actually end up sleeping more than I am awake today.
After lunch, I finished the photo board for Leg 4. This is a page posted around the main deck that allows everyone on the ship to see who is who and put a name to a face that they may have seen around. It made me a little sad that this is the last one I will work on.
Following that, Orest Kawka held a great student meeting. I was able to hear what the other students were doing for their projects as well as hear why some of the people on this research cruise came to this position and what their project were as well. Though we are all here for OOI and the Cabled Array, it is always fascinating to learn how a specific person got here and what they are hoping to accomplish in this amount of time.
I worked on editing some highlight videos before my shift in the control van. I really struggle with this. Katie Gonzalez taught me how to make these and she is able to quickly whip each video out while I end up taking much longer to create something of inferior quality. I realize that she has made many more of these and probably struggled with the same thing when she first started, but it is still frustrating to me.
Luckily, I was able to head to my shift in the control van before I became too overwhelmed with these. This leg I am doing camera logging instead of ROV logging. I knew how to do this before but had mostly done ROV logging in the past. I have found that I greatly prefer ROV logging as it keeps me busier. Camera logging, on the other hand, is more complicated, but has a lot of down time in between switching feeds and turning on 4K. In other words, ROV logging does a better job of keeping you awake. I have a feeling that I will need lots of caffeine to get me through tomorrows early morning shift.
July 21, 2018
I started today at 3:30 am. Since there are only 6 students on this cruise, we have again decided to do a 4 on, 8 off style watch. For this, we will be on watch for 4 hours, have 8 hours of free time, and then go on watch for another 4 hours. I share a watch with Evan Davis from 4am to 8am and again from 4pm to 8pm.
The watches for this leg are also different in what we will actually be doing when we are on watch. Normally, watches would just be for JASON dives. This leg, however, there aren’t very many dives with JASON. Almost everything will be on deck. Because of this, we should be using the times when we are on watch to work on anything that needs doing. Writing our blogs, working on highlight videos, taking photos, or even working on deck are all fair game so long as you are not in the way of anything. I really like the idea of doing watches this way. Hopefully, it works out well for everyone!
After dinner, the students worked with Wu Jung Lee to conduct a plankton tow. We hooked huge nets onto a very heavy metal frame. The bottom of the nets contained a cod-end, which caught the plankton to be recovered later. I was shocked by how much we were able to catch. Krill, fish larvae, comb jellies, and even some very tiny squid were are all caught and “pickled” in formaldehyde to be analyzed back at the University of Washington later.
I heard from Julie Nelson and Katie Bigham that nothing would be happening early tomorrow morning. Because of this, I do not have a morning watch tomorrow. I may have gotten a little too excited about this, however, as it is way past a good time for me to go to bed. Because this schedule is so different from my schedule for Leg 3, it will take some time to adjust to it. Now, I must go to bed and hopefully get on a better sleep schedule tomorrow.
July 20, 2018
Yesterday, the students from Leg 3 headed back to Seattle. It seems strange that I was only able to spend 5 days with them. Despite the short amount of time that I have shared, I formed a great connection with each of them and I am very sad to see them go. Luckily, I will be able to reconnect with most of them in the Fall.
The new members of the science party also came yesterday. I was surprised to see that quite a few of the engineers were leaving. It is interesting to think about how other people view this cruise versus how I view this cruise- 6 weeks is a long time and even people that love being at sea probably get tired of it at some point during this time. I am still very excited about being at sea and am even sad that this is going to be the last leg.
We leave port today at 8 pm. Every other time that we have left port has been in the morning or, at the very least, in the early afternoon. Leaving so late seems to be a very odd thing to do. We are heading to the Endurance Array. The winds are bad right now, but they should die down some in the evening, which is why we are leaving so late. I can’t believe that this is the last time I will be in Newport for a very long time.
I am a bit nervous about this leg, though I am not quite sure why. Last leg, I had felt more seasick during transit than I had for the first 2, which I had definitely not been expecting. Coupled with the fact that there are currently 30 knots per hour winds, I decided to purchase some Meclizine and some SeaBands – an elasticated band that goes around your wrist with a button inside that presses on a pressure point on your wrist intended to keep you centered and grounded- to hopefully keep that at bay. I have tried Meclizine last year and remember that it made me so tired that it was worth it to skip using them and fight through the nausea for me. However, I am interested in trying it again. I will try update the blog how well they work for me.