Saturday marked the halfway point of our cruise. In two more days we’ll be at the southernmost station of our trip, and then we’ll alter our course onto a two-week long diagonal towards South Africa, our ultimate destination. We have left the warm weather behind us, and are now in weather more comparable to that that which friends and family at home in the Northeast are currently experiencing. Temperatures are around 40˚F (so it’s a bit warmer than Maine) and the sky has mostly been gray and overcast with occasional showers.
On Saturday I was acting as bottle cop (a role that Whitney described in an earlier post) in the hangar on the main deck when the Chief Engineer came outside. He approached me and asked, “You’re doing good? No drugs?” I told him I wasn’t currently taking the coast guard cocktail. He responded, “You’re not a landlubber anymore.” Hearing this on the day marking the halfway point of the trip made me feel a certain sense of accomplishment and confidence in my sea legs. He then proceeded to secure the stack of plastic Adirondack chairs in the hangar to the wall so the ship’s rolling didn’t send them tumbling onto us as we collected samples from the CTD.
Yesterday the sea was calmer than on Saturday, and we passed the island of South Georgia just after dinnertime. Because of foggy conditions, we could only see the outline of the island’s glacial peaks, but it was still exciting to see land for the first time in three weeks! Many seals and penguins kept us company all day swimming and jumping out of the water next to the ship. Sights like these add some excitement to the fairly routine schedule aboard the Melville.
I feel I have really gotten into the rhythm of life at sea. It’s funny how everyone is on a unique schedule, so when I’m in the messhall getting a midnight snack before bed, one of the mates may walk in and say “Good Morning.” And when I begin my working shift at 1400, and greet one of the people on my research team with a “Good morning Bruce,” he often has to remind me, “Goodnight Bruce” before heading off to bed. Interactions like this happen pretty regularly. In the past few weeks, deployments, sampling, filtering and data analysis have all become more fluid and efficient—they’re parts of the rhythm of life at sea to which I am becoming accustomed.