I had agreed to wake up earlier than usual to meet with Laura and start loading the Undervator. Less sleep seems to be the only way to get most things done now.
The first task was to grab bio boxes from the Jason team and place them in the Undervator. These are heavy and need to be bolted down so that samples are not lost on the way up from the vent sites (nearly a mile deep). The Undervator is then latched under Jason for the dive. We numbered all the boxes and the crew joked about how odd the numbers looked.
All the events leading up to the dive went by so quickly! I got about three hours of sleep then it was time for the first dive.
August 28: Liking My Schedule
I am officially liking this new schedule. I got up in time for the bridge tour at 12:30. Andrew lead all the students and those interested, through many flights of stairs. When we reached our destination to the Bridge of the Thompson, Second Mate Todd greeted us. He explained the controls and what it takes to navigate the Thompson. Everyone asked so many questions, it became an impromptu interview, which was great! We got the general idea of what the process is like to become a second mate, Captain, and some of the other roles at sea.
We are getting more updates on the upcoming dives for the InVADER effort-funded by BOEM (D. Kelley). It is getting close to our turn, how exciting!
I have learned things change in the blink of an eye at sea, so I hope we get to do all three dives. Laura and I began setting up the stations for all the different samples. That alone took about four hours.
On my fourth shift as an event logger, the dive ended a few hours in. After, Jason had to undergo prep for the next dive, so we were put on standby. Katie G. took us to the computer lab and we played DOS (like UNO, the card game) until our shift ended.
August 27: Waiting for Sea Legs
I woke up before my alarm. I do not have a second watch, but I am on standby from 12:00-16:00, so I thought it best to slowly make my way up to the Main Lab. I was feeling rather good. I prayed on the time I had and finished some of the blogs that were a little overdue. Dinner time came by quick, and I was happy to eat a solid full meal.
Laura and I stepped outside to get some fresh air and look at the shades of blue that surrounded us. Water and mystery for hundreds of miles. It is a humbling realization.
My third shift in the Jason van began and I watched Jason descend. This time APL engineer, Trina, was in the hot seat to lead the dive. There was some surveying of the site in 4K and recovering of an instrument and cable. Recovering the cable takes skill and more than anything patience! The cables are long, so it can get confusing when you have more than one instrument in the area. It was a treat to see how easily they were able to recover the instrument with the cable attached!
August 26: The Transit
I woke up rocking back and forth in a distinct pattern, enjoying the sound of the water crashing. The Thompson continued its 20-hour transit to Axial Base.
I got up and went to the Main Lab where Laura and the students sat working on their laptops. Julie came by to tell us we would be in transit for a while so we were free to work on projects or blogs for the time being. Laura asked me to help her carry some material to Ben Trad (Jason expedition leader). He was going to cut the material so that it could serve as a partition in the basket(s) for the InVADER dives funded by BOEM to the University of Washington.
About 30 minutes later Julie came back. It was time to do some chemistry. I went to go see if Delilah was feeling better. She had gone to lay down for a bit and asked us to get her if there was going to be any lab work.
In the lab I watched Divi and Delilah performing the titration while Julie directed them. I was thinking of going next, but I started to feel unwell. I excused myself and ran to the bathroom, nothing happened. My head felt like it was going to explode. I made the decision to lay down and see if it passed. The only thing that passed was the time. I napped for a bit. I tried to get up, but every time I did, I felt worse. I was on bed-lock. Not sleepy, lying in bed and staring at the wall for hours while the sea lifted me up and pushed me into the mattress. After a while Divinity and Cathe came to check in on me. That’s how I found out Delilah, Laura, and Rithu had all gotten seasick during the transit.
I was able to get up once the transit was complete, about an hour and a half before my shift. I slowly got up and felt good enough to get going. Delilah and I made it to our shift, we walked into the control van as Jason descended and did some cable cleaning.
This time the dive was so long our entire shift was while Jason descended. The Jason team had some music playing which was a real nice touch. Before I handed over my seat to Laura Jason had reached the depth of approximately 2400 meters!
I was proud of completing my shift. I fell into the most comfortable sleep.
August 25: First day out at Sea
The night went by fast. After eating a light breakfast, we had our safety meeting. This is where we put on our immersion suits (these are supposed to save us from drowning/exposure in case of an emergency). I am sure I got it on under 2 minutes, although Pablo was the clear winner of the group.
I got my watch assignment, my watch schedule in the Jason van is from 0:00 midnight to 04:00.
At around 15:00 the Thompson left port. In the first hour, all the students and many others were out on deck enjoying the view. Laura and I were also counting the minutes in hopes sea sickness would not creep up.
Well, something did indeed creep up. At least after that my headache went away, but I felt tired. Cathe was a witness to all of that and along with Julie and Katie B. I felt like I had the best people supporting me. Also, Terrance shared some juiced ginger to make an extra potent hot tea to sooth my stomach. I left to my room to lay down and attempt to nap before my shift.
As I began to feel better trying to nap became futile. I was just too excited to see what being in the Jason van would be like! I knew the shift before mine was starting soon so I headed to get some Gatorade first (hydration is key when you are not feeling well) and ran into Katie G. I told her I had read her blogs and was looking forward to talking to her more about her experiences on the cruise when she was just a student.
We then headed to the Jason van, and they were in the middle of a dive, you could feel the intensity! I stayed in there for an hour just watching how they maneuvered the ROV and handled communication amongst their team. The purpose of the dive was to recover and Deep Profiler vehicle installed in 2020 and clean the cable along the way.
Before I knew it, it was time for my shift to begin, Delilah (my watch buddy) and I headed to the Jason van. We knew we walked into something important happening because the van was almost full. We got our debriefing from the students whose shift was about to end.
During my shift I was tasked with event logging. Since it was my first day on the shift, I was afraid of writing the wrong thing or missing an important event, but Katie G. was there to answer my every question and check that I did not miss a thing.
In less than two hours Jason was brought to the surface and the dive was complete. Since our shift was not over we then headed to the computer lab with Julie to witness a CTD cast. She communicated with the Thompson crew member who controlled the winch so that they knew when she wanted the CTD rosette to descend. The max depth reached was 560 meters, 10 meters shy from the floor of Oregon Offshore site.
Then Julie communicated to the winch when to ascend and hold to collect water samples at the depths needed for analysis. The purpose of this being to cross check the results with that of the instruments installed in the water to verify the data and see if any adjustments needed to be made.
Delilah and I also were given the chance to radio the winch and close some of the niskin bottles at a specific depth. Afterwards we left the computer lab to help collect the water from the niskin bottles for the different types of analysis that would be completed within the coming days. What an exciting first day at sea!
August 24: The Arrival
We first stepped onto the R/V Thomas G. Thompson around 12:00. We arrived just in time to catch lunch. We met Nikki and Terrance and as we were eating Katie G. and Cathe came to say hello. The other students had not yet arrived.
After that Orest showed Laura and I to our workspace and lab space, then Julie showed us our room assignments. After unpacking our luggage Laura and I went to the lab to open and store the science equipment that had been shipped ahead of time. We placed flammables and corrosives into proper safety cabinets and secured boxes with ratchets and bungee cords.
In this space we will be preparing collected samples from the ASHES Hydrothermal Field. This will happen in the second half of the leg. These samples are going to four different labs for the InVADER project to help characterize the geology, minerology, and vent fluid compositions.
I wanted to update my family, so I stepped onto the dock and made a video call. I showed them the outside of the Thompson. They were impressed, but who would not be, it is a beautiful vessel!
At 17:00 it was dinner time – Pizza night. Here is where I met APL engineer Trina Lichendorf. We got to know each other a little bit while we ate our pizza. She told me she worked on many instruments, I expressed my interest in knowing more about her role and arranged to interview her later.
Back at the Main Lab me and Laura went over a few details about procedures for the three dives scheduled for the InVADER project. Later we tracked down Pablo so we could take some pictures in front of the ship and post our last social media picture before takeoff.