July 7, 2004
We wake to the smell of egg Mc Muffins and the cornucopia of fresh fruit for breakfast and the excitement of leaving Port San Diego at 1030! We pass the ponds where the Navy trains the dolphins, a yellow submarine, many seals on buoys and finally the lighthouse. We are on our way! I help Terri scrape glue off the Plexiglas incubation tank as she rebuilds it for a better fit. I begin to ask questions and get the idea of the project. One aspect is to incubate phytoplankton at different depths and temperatures to monitor growth rate. Terri is an amazing, creative woman. She is a natural problem solver, and loves to improvise! She seems fearless and happily wraps her arms and mind around problems and turns them into challenges. The ship has email capacity so I send a thank you note to Mount Vernon High School for the interview, and hope they contact me at my at sea address.
At lunch I notice a board in the galley that announces a Safety Drill at 12:30. Again I review my bunk billet and lifeboat #3 instructions. The bell rings a long blast for ten seconds and we gather at the safety station while Jeremy reviews our safety procedures. Although he is still lanky like a teenager, Jeremy's assertiveness and competence assure and comfort me in this new environment. He takes control and explains why it is necessary for us to "Answer to me...Only I give directions...so there is no confusion." (I secretly pray for this confidence and composure with my students for this school year and am thankful for his model.) We move out on deck where he shows us the winch house, cables and giant CTD. The CTD is a scientific instrument to collect water samples and record the conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) in the water column. It becomes apparent why we need to be alert and respective of the ship heavy equipment environment. He shows us how to safely deploy and retrieve the CTD and secure it on ship with bowlines and ratcheted straps. We run tests of the CTD to make sure it works before we get too far. I feel dyslexic as I retie the bowline and have empathy for my students as they learn new things. I hope to have as much patience with them as Jeremy does with me. As if to relieve my tension from learning all these new things, dolphins greet us for the first time! They spin high out of the water, alongside the bow, as if escorting us on our great adventure. After dinner, we watch our first sunset as we steam south. Someone quietly moving around the deck appears to be sniffing the giant cable and lines. Closer observation reveals a camera in his hands. Later I realize that he and his camera show up at every sunset. We have been so busy and there is just enough motion to swirl my thoughts, so reading my camera manual is on hold. For now I trust in the trial and error, point and shoot method.
I am so excited about everything that I need to burn some energy...so I get on the exercise bike, which is serendipitously on the 02 level. Here I can watch the colors fade and Milky Way appear by 2100. I go below and with courage, ask Ida questions about the research. She gladly flips out her laptop and presents her power point on alkenones. I drift off dreaming of dolphin spirals and gorgeous Emiliania Huxley spheres.
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