I worked the 19:00 to 01:00 watch on June 30, and as soon as 00:00 came around, my watch started singing happy birthday to me. Really a great start to the day, especially when all you can see at that time of night is the stars and Milky Way. After my watch, my bunkmate Talia was still awake at 01:00. She surprised me with a "Happy Birthday Kelly" sign above my bunk. I couldn't really see it until I turned my red light on, but it was a very well done poster. Trying to write while the ship is rolling is harder than it looks. During our 2:30 class, the crew surprised me with a 5 layer lemon cake. How Cam and Nevin (our amazing Galley team) were able to keep that cake standing is a mystery. It was a really nice surprise, and I am happy that everyone was able to enjoy some cake as well. Additionally, I was surprised with some gifts from my bunkmates. I got a pair of turtle socks from Talia and Hannah, because my spirit animal is the turtle Crush from Finding Nemo. Additionally, Sarah and Nina got me a globe t shirt. I will be wearing this outfit tomorrow. Definitely the best birthday I have had, and a once in a lifetime opportunity with the best people.
When it comes to the past week of boat life, all of my crewmates are so nice and cool. I am learning so much while being out here. On the nautical science side of things, I am learning how to handle sails, chart, and celestial navigate. On the research side of things, I have done neuston tows, and dropped a CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth). While doing the CTD, we attached niskin bottles to the wire, which allow us to take water samples further down the water column. We are getting closer to the core of the North Pacific Gyre, where most plastic ruminates. Sightings of plastic debris, as well as higher microplastics counts in our neuston net tows prove how much closer we're getting.
While on board, I have been covered in salt water, sunburnt, covered in zooplankton, have more bruises than I have ever had, and the calluses on my hands are quickly developing due to hauling the sails. But I am having so much fun. The adjustment to sea life was definitely strange, but sailing is slowly becoming addicting √ especially if you're surrounded by amazing crewmates.
They have not pushed me overboard yet, updates to come. ?
-Kelly Barr, B Watch, Gonzaga University