Ahoy! I'm here to contribute to an ever-furthering narrative of wonderfully exciting days we've been having. My watch was standing in the afternoon, and we took the deck with rather less wind than we'd hoped. The seas have been, technically speaking, FAC (flat-ass calm, to translate for all you non-mariners out there) so, working on deck has meant lots of time to experiment with lines and work on our cups for the styrocast.
More than once we put up some experimental rigging to make the most of our non-exisistant wind. For example, the ⌠preventer preventer■ as our chief mate so aptly describes a rogue line tying the boom to the side of the boat. But when we weren't toying with lines, we were decorating styrofoam cups which we will send down to 1800 meters to see the effects of increasing pressure over depth. And in the Puerto Rico trench, no less!
Pose with Cramer! (Blake, Elle, Evan, and Caroline)
I have been told, in the marine science community, it is all the rage to display your resulting cups, so, fear not, if our data collection wasn't enough, your CRX team is officially in with the professionals in the field. I personally am the furthest thing from an artist, but to memorialize some of my favorite reef sightings in sharpie on a cup was a truly enjoyable way to spend a potentially disheartening early afternoon. Some of you may be receiving these as gifts, close your eyes!
Our afternoon of crafting was interrupted by class, which turned out to be another hands-on depth conceptualization activity. But with candy! Guaranteed success. In order to understand light reflection in the water, we timed the length of visibility of varying colors of ⌠light attenuating spheroids■ as they sank into the ocean. We saw that our peers had a much more difficult time maintaining long viewing periods of the blue and purple spheroids than they did the red or orange ones. Some data may have been lost to the fact that several spheroids (taking the form of m&m's) were mysteriously lost in the process. Yum. And, to add to the fun, just as we were wrapping up our calculations, some sunfish and trigger fish came up to say hello! And see what we were up to! Wonderful sighting.
Then we were on to complete the last remaining data processing to finalize our reef work with a very temping carrot over our heads - swim call over the Puerto Rico trench! So, as I sat counting colonies of E. Coli in water samples, I was eagerly anticipating a refreshing dip in the deep. And when the moment came, it was everything I wanted and more. A jump off the bowsprit later, we were all swimming over an excess of 8000 meters in the bluest, most open ocean you can imagine. Our captain may or may not be going for the record of most swim calls, and boy are we happy about it.
Finally, after all that, it was time for me to go back to work, and back to watch I returned. But don't worry, the excitement didn't stop. A beautiful sunset captivated C watch's attention, and in all of our oogling, we realized we could see Mercury before it set below the horizon. We've never managed to get the timing right, so this was a first for me. Then, of course we spent some quality time with our old friends Cassiopeia, Orion, and the Pleiades. The day ended with my standing lookout and, to my surprise, hearing some breaths off the bow. Behold - dolphins! What wonderful company they provided at the end of a day.
Oh, and it mustn't go unnoticed that Alex and I beat Mac and Evan in euchre (again).
To my loved ones, I will see you soon - big hugs await you. To Walker and Pierce, I▓ve got lots of fish photos and constellation stories to share with you. I miss you boys!
In the meantime, I cherish every moment on this beautiful ship in this beautiful place.
[Caroline Armour, C Watch, Middlebury College]