From Copepods to Coconuts

August 7, 2019

Cassidy Bull, A Watch, Johns Hopkins University

All smiles for ants on a log in the salon with some good friends.

All smiles for ants on a log in the salon with some good friends.

Ship's Log

Current Position
10˚ 16.941’S x 172˚ 11.685’W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
158˚, 5.2 knots

Sail Plan
Motorsailing on a port tack, under the main stays’l, the fore stays’l and the jib, at 1100 RPM.

Winds E x S force 6, Seas ESE 8ft.

Souls on Board

The waves have been getting rougher and rougher the past couple of days, approaching the heights they were in the beginning of the trip. The Easterly Winds are steadily pretty strong at around a force five, helping to build the swells. A watch had dawn watch this morning, Michelle, Silas and I were in lab. I was the JLO (junior lab officer), which basically means for this watch I ensure that all the necessary tasks are completed. Because Connor was JLO for the previous watch, for turnover we had to do a power transfer, so I spun into a tutu made of an old neuston net.

In lab we did a 100 count of zooplankton from C watch’s neuston tow, there were so many copepods as per usual. Us labbies also had a dawn watch question, and put together a small board with information about light attenuation. Light attenuation is essentially the way light interacts with matter, more specifically the degree to which light is either absorbed or scattered by interacting with particulates in the water. In lab, we also organized test tubes and hung out on deck, a pretty chill watch as we are not doing as many science deployments since we left PIPA.

It was really nice to hang out in the lab with Michelle and Silas, even at 3 am when we are all super sleepy and delirious and need to get sweaters (a very rare occurrence). Going onto deck was fun too, our watch downed a whole sleeve of saltines pretty speedily, and we made a joke out of really loudly announcing who would come up onto deck, yelling their names followed by “on deck.” Orion was really nice around 4 am, pretty close to the horizon but super clear and bright.

After dawn watch we came down for breakfast to find that Allie and Lauren had made cinnamon rolls! They were absolutely incredible, really spoiling us. After breakfast A-watch-baby! dispersed to take some good naps and have ever-interesting boat dreams. They get pretty wacky. Brandon woke me up very nicely for our watch meeting, where we climbed onto the lab-top, trying not to fall from the rocking of the boat. We sat on some folded up sails and talked about what we’d like to accomplish in the last few days of the trip. Unsurprisingly, every single one of us wants to do more celestial navigation. We are all going to get up early tomorrow to shoot stars with the sextants and do some calculations to determine our position. Hila reviewed gybing with us as well, as we are now JWOs (junior watch officers) and are taking turns directing sail handling and boat maneuvers. I’m the JWO for watch tonight (1900-0100), so we will see how it goes.

We then had all hands class, where Michelle, Silas and I presented about light attenuation and Connor and Janell talked about their policy project about biodiversity and education. After class was dismissed we had some time to work on our projects, due nervously soon. I chatted with Henry about my proposal for new sources of funding for PIPA, which was super helpful. We fine-tuned my argument about media presence in Kiribati, and discussed the role of NGOs in decision making.

For snack we had some ants on a log, a big throwback to elementary school, which everyone was really excited about, as well as some really fresh veggies. It’s crazy how all the food is able to stay good for so long, I really don’t fully understand how it works (not really sure anyone does), but something about keeping the reefer really dry and really cold.

Just a couple fun things since my last blog: Jason read aloud for us the novel he’s writing, absolutely amazing, well-written and super creative. A few of us trekked around the whole island of Nikumaroro (around 10 miles total) looking for FADs, which was very incredible but also very difficult. Adam and I stood in waist deep water in the cut for about 30 minutes while a huge school of mullet swam around us fighting the current. We all made really neat bracelets or anklets using the Turkshead knot. Harrison and I have been having story time, reading his book The Island Within, which is pretty relevantly themed I would say. And Pat and I sat under a tree and shared a coconut, one of the freshest and most amazing things I’ve ever tasted.

To mom, dad and Cayman, I hope all is well at home, I love you and can’t wait to see you all super soon. Cayman, I hope you’ve picked out some pretty rad classes for the fall. Tell Skittles and Thunder I love em.

- Cassidy Bull, A Watch, Johns Hopkins University

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