5:30am. BEEP BEEP BEEP…I am shoved out of the comfortable nothingness of sleep into a dark, foggy morning. Seconds after my alarm clock sounds, visions of an ROV hovering above the seafloor pop into my consciousness. Suddenly, I am fully awake and excited about starting a five-hour commute to Newport…because a certain research vessel is docked at my destination. After months of preparation, a week of short course sessions, and hours of watching live feed from the cruise, I will finally be off the beach and onto the ship. Not so fast, though…first comes a long van ride with a short stop for lunch, and a scenic detour through Newport when our van driver misses the exit! Then, we go through security at the NOAA dock and, to our amusement, are immediately greeted by a film crew. I help load and offload equipment for a while as everyone gets oriented on the boat. A lot goes on during the first days of a research cruise, and this time is no exception. Several of us have fun putting on survival suits during the safety meeting shortly after we depart land, scientists start carving out their individual workspaces, and a few students get seasick.
I am excited about meeting all the researchers on board. During the cruise, the other students and I will work on our individual projects while assisting these researchers in their efforts to accomplish scientific goals, and contributing to ROPOS (ROV) operations.