Posted by: rachelanne229 | December 2, 2010

on a boat!

right now i’m in a boat about 10 miles from the coast of NH.  i’m in the middle of a weeklong NOAA research cruise in the gulf of maine, visiting about 40 sampling stations along the way.  there are four of us scientists on board (yes, i’m considered a scientist now!!), and we split into groups of two doing continuous 12 hour shifts.  my shift is 3 pm to 3 am, and during this time we travel to sampling stations, wait for the crew to bring up the nets, and then hose down the nets into a sieve to get our samples.  we’re looking primarily for fish eggs and larvae, but we’re also getting tons of little shrimp and some jellyfish too.  the samples are preserved and the temperature, salinity, depth data is constantly logged as the nets move through the water column.  it’s pretty awesome to learn this stuff, and way more fun than what i’d be doing in school this week.

the people on the boat are great, and so is the FOOD!  i had steak, potatoes, and fruit and green salad for supper tonite, with delicious ice cream and oreos for dessert.  now that i have become a sissy who voms all nite long, the crew has ordered me to eat more oreos, since they “taste just as good coming up as they do going down.”  disgusting, i know, but i don’t have a problem with eating more oreos!  my motion sickness patch didn’t hold up to the test of rough weather last nite.  they call this boat the “Dancing Delaware,” and for good reason.  my room is in the bow, so it’s pretty bumpy up here, and my stomach just couldn’t take it, which made for a rough nite.  the rocking of the boat was so crazy that all my belongings were flying across my room and i kept crashing into the bed frame and the sink and the toilet.  i put on a new patch before bed, and all day i’ve had blurred vision, which has been a little scary.  i couldn’t see the numbers on my phone this morning, or see what time my watch said.  thankfully, my vision’s coming back.  no more patches for me!

i’ve got my own bedroom and bathroom, complete with an unexpected internet connection, so this trip has really presented no hardships to me.  i am looking forward to setting my feet on solid ground again this weekend, but i have really loved getting involved with the science on this cruise and meeting the people who live on this boat 9 months of the year.  they were actually just down in the gulf of mexico not long ago.  respect!  usually i just read papers about data that’s already been collected and written up, but now i’m lucky enough to be helping to actually collect the data!  cool cool cool.  i’m actually feeling motivated again to grab the bull by the horns and get some work done on my thesis when i get back to school next week.  my feelings of complacency toward my thesis have been turned into ambition since talking to the people on the boat who are passionate about what they do, and do it well.

the sea has calmed down tonite, and i enjoyed a beautiful sunset out on the deck, which has been unseasonably warm.  i’ve been bad and haven’t taken advantage of the ship’s “gym,” an exercise bike near the wet lab.  trying to get on my survival suit was the most exercise i’ve had all week!  when i get back to reality, i’m gonna hit the ground running, literally.

the boat’s slowing down, so i guess we’re near our next station.  time to go collect some plankton, baby!

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