I got up bright and early at 3:30 am and made my way to the Dive control room to begin my watch shift. The dive was nearing its end, so we weren’t there for too long.
We got out early enough that it was still dark out, so I went to the front of the ship hoping to see some stars, but it was foggy outside and visibility was low.
It was too dark to see the water, but there was a buoy in the distance with a flashing light. Every time the light flashed, a slice of water would light up and the constant waves would reveal themselves.
My shift ended at 8 am and I made my way to bed.
After I woke up, I went to the bow and caught an amazing scene. On the horizon was an endless sea and above was a beautiful, light-blue sky. The magnitude of the sight was impossible to comprehend in short glances and surveys of the view. I found that I had to sit down and let my eyes travel to the edge of the water to really see what was going on. Even then, I was left stunned by how expansive the reality in front of me was.
Afterwards, I got to clean a BEP from a dive earlier in the day. I took my jacket off and got to work scrubbing. It was grounding to think of the depths that this device had just endured.
Later, I went to the lab and helped create some standards for an oxygen titration. It took us some time, but we eventually got the data we needed. The ship was in transit around this time and having to maintain your balance while working with glass flasks added an extra layer to the excitement.
The evening watch shift went well, and we spent most of our time capturing still photos from the ongoing dive and logging them in the system.
After the shift ended, I headed straight to bed and set my alarm for 3:30am the next morning.
Another successful and full day at sea.
After a surprisingly restful night of sleep on-board, I felt energized to tackle the second day and learn more about the vessel.
A safety briefing in the morning highlighted the extensive preparations the crew has in case of an emergency and gave me the opportunity to try on an Immersion suit.
While exploring the second deck of the ship, I found myself in the right place at the right time and caught a great view of the crew doing a dry run of some of their procedures for the first dive later that evening. The machines moved with elegance as they made granular movements, despite their enormous components.
We left the NOAA facility around 6 pm and I very quickly learned how loud a ship’s fog horn is.
As we continued onwards into the ocean, the view reminded me of that in Caspar Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, and the ominous sight gave me chills – or maybe that was the wind.
The waves started getting bigger and the front of the ship turned into a roller coaster, with intense periods of weightlessness. I felt the onset of seasickness, but thankfully I began to feel better after thirty minutes.
I got to wrap-up my 4-8pm watch shift in the dive control room where the first dive had just begun and then I made my way to bed at the strange time of 8:15pm.
The R/V Thompson is grand.
Today marked our group’s onboarding onto the vessel after an unexpectedly short six-hour trip down from the University of Washington to Newport, Oregon – where the Thompson is docked and ready for sea at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) base.
The inside arrangement and operations of the ship are precise. Every member on-board is part of a well-choreographed dance. As one scientist sleeps at night, another rises. This harmony is echoed throughout every aspect of the ship’s responsibilities, ultimately yielding a scientific research powerhouse.
I am excited to briefly become a part of this synchrony… although I am not looking forward to the 4am watch shift