Another 6:30 am wake up to get on the mid-level platform by 7 am. I packed up a bag with snacks and water, my camera and sunglasses and climbed up. It had just rained so I was a little nervous about slipping, but it turned out fine. I’ve been doing watches with Johnny in the morning, which isn’t so bad because we can talk the whole time. You would think that it’d help the time go by faster, but it doesn’t. Time still drags on while you’re up there. If you want time to stand still, I suggest that being the first place you go. I need to stop wearing a watch because I’ll look at it and only 4 minutes will have passed when it feels closer to 40.
About an hour into it, I noticed that there were areas of water up ahead that looked as though they were moving. Yes, I know the ocean is constantly moving with tides and waves, but this was more than just whitecaps. Turns out there were several pockets of tuna just having feeding frenzies at the surface. Johnny pretended to know a lot about them and what was going on, but admitted quickly that he had no idea what he was talking about. Fake it til you make it, right? We radioed down to the pilothouse and gave the coordinates (about 11 o’clock) and decided to try and have a go at catching some. When we were approaching the tuna started to quickly disperse. Johnny had climbed down to try and bait a line in time and Kait was out on the bow. She said, “Hey! Look at the whale shark!” I looked down and saw this huge, huge, I mean HUGE gray shadow in the water right next to starboard side! Like RIGHT NEXT TO IT! You could have jumped off the boat and landed on its back. It had to be at least 30 feet long. It almost seemed that it didn’t even notice us coming up on it because it stayed for a moment before turning and calmly swimming away.
The tuna fishing turned out to be a fail because the tuna scatter when you get close to them and we aren’t able to cast out too far with the fishing pole since we don’t have a good enough weight for the line. We made other attempts during the day since tuna feedings were all we saw, but none of them really worked. It was a day of nothing but whitecaps. It got to the point where I was on watch and my eyes were playing tricks on me as I started to think I was seeing whale blows. I’d stare at an area and then realize that I wasn’t seeing a dorsal fin or anything, so there was obviously no whale.
In between watch shifts, we had sailed next to a large patch of sargasso weed. There are usually lots of fish that hide under it. Captain Bob had said there were some small fish showing up on the bow cam, so they decided to try and get some of the smaller fish and hopefully attract larger ones. Johnny ended up using the hand-cast net and of course the anchors didn’t sink through the sargasso and just floated on top. When he pulled the net in, it pulled in A LOT of sargasso weed. It seemed like the entire starboard side was covered. BUT! In the weeds there were thousands of krill. We have an interest in sampling krill since they are the prey species of baleen whales (like the Brydes whales that we want to look for.) We’ve taken fish samples as examples for the toothed species (orcas), but needed to try and sample krill. Taking prey samples is important because when you work to see the levels of toxic substances in the whales, the question remains: “Well, where did this come from?” Obviously, prey species is a good indication of what could be going on. We’re also taking water and air samples every time we’re near whales. Anyway, they had tried collecting krill before, but were unsuccessful. I guess that it’s extremely difficult and usually people just can’t get it done. Maybe Johnny’s on to something because it wasn’t long before most of the crew was out on deck picking up krill with their hands or spoons. Please note that krill are about the size of a grain of rice or smaller. They look like small shrimp. It was a pretty arduous task, to say the least. Being hunched over low, head down, on the bouncing bow made me feel a little nauseous so I didn’t last too long at the task. I admit it.
So I had watch from 7 am to 9 am, then again from 11 am to 1 pm. I went and laid down after the krill collecting for about a half hour before going up. My second shift I was up with Kait, who is my favorite watch partner, if I haven’t made that obvious in prior posts. She’s entertaining and we can chat for hours and she’s got this really loud, awesome laugh. It’s not obnoxious loud by any means. We were both kind of glad to get away from the krill-madness happening on deck since it turns out, she wasn’t feeling well doing that either. We continued our habit of breaking out an ipod, sharing the ear pieces, and belting out songs as loud and as purposefully awful as we can. It usually makes Dr. Bob laugh while he’s down on the pilothouse. We had a little more Elton John, some John Mellencamp, and Billy Joel in there. Bennie and the Jets, Jack and Diane, Piano Man. Legendary material, if you ask me.
I had a four hour break between my second shift and my third at 5 pm. During that time I worked on my papers that were due for the week. It took awhile because I was unclear on the directions and what the professor was looking for. It was almost that the directions were too general and I wasn’t sure of where to look for the information. I had a lunch of my current staple: PB&J with banana in it and a cheese stick. Johnny was trying to get me to go through all of the krill samples and put them into sample bottles, which are about the size of one of those a 5-hour energy drinks you see next to the cash register at stores. My papers had never looked so appealing to write when faced with counting krill as a second option. I got both Tuesday and Thursdays papers done, which was a relief because I can now work on the billion other things I have to do. Like watch an hour long movie on Georgia O’Keefe and “arrange things” into something “artsy” then write a two-page “artist’s statement” about “what it means to me.” Don’t get me wrong, I like art and appreciate it. I’m just in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. We’ll see what I come up with as my options are pretty limited to what’s on board.
So, finished the papers, edited the blog (which you are now reading, thanks!), updated photos, and tried to figure out why my phone is being a brat. I thought it had died, so I was charging it, and its only reaction is a little red light. Now, it just flat out will NOT turn on. I’ve tried taking the battery out and putting it back in, charging it longer, yadda yadda yadda. It just doesn’t want to turn on anymore, which is a major buzzkill. I have no alarm clock now and the alarm on my watch is only so loud. I really need to figure that out.
Climbed back up to do the watch at 5 and was supposed to be with Johnny again. He decided that 4:50 pm was a good time to start setting up the air sampler and not be getting ready to go aloft to mid-level. Johnny, if you’re reading this, know that I wanted to smack you for deciding that’s when you wanted to do that instead of delegating the task out to someone else who was completely capable. Like, Captain Bob, who was the one who ended up climbing up to secure the instrument as it is. Or Bailey, who I watched climb up to put the filters in (which were supposed to go in before). I love ya, anyway, though. Johnny came up about 5:30 pm and I went down at 6 after I was done. So he stayed up for the last watch of the day.
Dinner was this fabulous Brazilian stew. Sandy was kind enough to put two bowls aside with no meat for Kait and I. We turned off the engine and drifted. The entire crew went out to the aft deck again and squeezed in around the table, nice and cozy. Talked about the day and exchanged jokes for awhile. Laughter is the best medicine, really. After dinner I was sitting in the salon for awhile working on some things, but Steve and I decided to go check out the star from the bow. We were joined by Kait and Matt. The four of us were laying out there side by side laughing because, let’s face it, Steve’s funny. So funny that my sides hurt from laughing. He said, “I feel like we’re in junior high right now. You know, when you hang out with one other guy and two girls and you do something…so…not involving alcohol. Then you go back inside and drink mass quantities of Mountain Dew and watch PG-13 movies.” Truth. Very true. That’s exactly how it felt. We talked about some other things, like how I was concerned that we’d run out of toilet paper because literally every time I go pee, the roll is at the very end so I get the task of pulling out a new one to replenish. I only noticed one 4 pack and was thinking, oh no. We’ve got 10 days out here and there’s only one package!? That’s going to get awkward. When we went back in, Kait came up to me and simply said, “There’s 36.” Ahahaha I laughed about that for a bit.
The moon had yet to rise so the sky was covered with so many stars that it was hard to take it all in. When the moon did rise, it was this big yellow half moon that hung just over the horizon.
I was exhausted by 9:30 and apparently, so was everyone else. When I came back in, most people had already went to their bunks to hibernate. I figured it was about time to take a legitimate shower since my hair was feeling pretty greasy (gross). It needed some attention. Luckily, the shower water was pretty warm! I was starting to grow accustomed to cold showers or Mother Nature showers were she just pelts you with everything she’s got. Now, let me highlight this showering on a boat experience. We can only take Navy showers. I’m not positive I’ve explained that before, but in case I haven’t, I’ll save you from Googling it. You get in, rinse off, turn off the water. Shampoo up, turn on the water, rinse, turn off, repeat. So I brushed my hair before hand to get all the knots out of it to save me some time of fighting it in the shower. Regardless, this shower was the most ridiculous thing. The boat’s rocking all over the place. I’m in the shower, trying to work shampoo through my hair. Obviously my eyes were closed because who does that with their eyes open? I feel like you learn not keep them open the first time you get shampoo in your eyes. So, I’m blind with my hands wrapped up in my hair being tossed back and forth around in the shower. There’s bottles flying off and hitting me and the water on the base of the shower is sloshing around. I ended up taking a sprinter’s stance with one foot against each wall so I could brace myself. That seemed to work better. I’ll know now what to expect in the future. You will, too, for that matter.
It was bed time for me after that. 10 pm, lights out! Gooooood night.
Also. Bailey said the funniest joke the other day and I just have to share it. Kait and I almost fell out of our seats laughing. It goes something like this: “I dated a girl with a peg leg once. We broke it off. Her name was Eileen.” Ahahahahaha now say that aloud to yourselves and I hope you appreciate that as much as I did. Sweet, simple, to the point.