Good morning folks! It’s Day 2 on this leg of the project but more like Day 5 for me on this trip. Around 9:00 am Tuesday we met the ship at the Crown Bay center in St. Thomas. This is where some of the cruise ships come in so, to make sure we weren’t just some randoms they check your ID and mark your name off a pre-made list. Without this there is no luck getting on the ship.
Once on the ship we find out which bunk we are by the tags on the door. These tags tell us where to go in case of an emergency, for example if there is a fire we all muster at the main deck. The ship does a few drills to cover everything which is helpful since people usually panic like heck and don’t really think if there is an actual emergency.
We had a little breakfast on the ship and then we headed out to a beautiful beach called Megan’s Bay. Its apparently one of the world’s best beaches. Can you say DOPE? Well it was, I encourage everyone to check it out on their next vacation/research project ;).
Fast forward to Wednesday morning. We all got up and got breakfast, I took some Dramamine (a pill to make sure I don’t get sea sick). The ship didn’t move until 1:30pm which gave the pill time to take effect. Meanwhile we are all getting acclimated to the ship. First we have a Welcome Aboard meeting given by the ships operations manager who is a NOAA Corps officer. Haven’t heard of them before? No prob bob, they are not what you typically think of when someone says “service.” They are not an “armed” service like the army but they are a “uniform” service.
Long story short, she tells us all the Do’s and Dont's on the ship. There are 36 people on this ship in total, in tight spaces, so she told us about how to manage this. For instance when you are eating in the Mess Hall don’t linger there for too long. Everybody can’t fit in there at once so you have to get up and give someone your seat. They also showed us a video about sexual harassment. Don’t worry the crew I’m with is very respectful.
Then we have a Science Meeting where the Chief Scientist welcomes all the new scientists on and gives us the rundown of the sampling methods for the project. They are collecting all types of data here. As we did last time they are collecting information from the CTD on salinity, temperature, and depth (I think they are also getting some chlorophyll readings). They are doing an S25 this time, which is the same net as an S10 except it goes down 25 meters instead of 10, this collects water which they look for larval fish in. Just like last time we are towing the mini bongos which is separated out to different sizes of plankton (Micro and Meso). Confused? Don’t worry, I’ll have plenty of time to go through each piece of equipment and data.
As soon as we left port, work began. I’m on the night shift so I work 12 mid night to 12 noon (wish me luck). We stayed up for some of the day shift just to get a feel for things and then I headed to sleep around 5:00pm.
In the words of some famous singer whose name escapes me at the moment, “Sleep don’t come easy.” My bunkmate was sea sick, which is easy to do on this ship considering the fact that it literally never stops rocking. I think it’s worse than the Walton Smith but others don’t agree. I woke up out of my sleep about 2 times because I was being tossed about by the ship. But hey, this too shall pass right. The last time I awoke was time to start my shift so I wasn’t mad at all.
Now to get back to work. Keep checking back to see what we'll be collecting for the next few days.