Today’s the day! Mission officially starts today as of morning watch, but as B Watch, we’ve got a special role: prep C watch to start mission, and to bring us all to the finish line. It just so happened that we had the honour of starting the day off with Dawn Watch and ending it with Evening Watch.
C watch: adjusting speed for the Neuston tow
I woke up a little bit past midnight and started the pre-Dawn Watch routine: get up, check how cold and wet the deck is, run to the foulie locker, put them on, had a cup of coffee, read Cap’s Night Orders, and did my deck walk. I was JLO (Junior Lab Officer) for Dawn Watch, but the plan for lab that night was that we’d have to get our hourlies done and finish our DOR/POR project. Most of us on B Watch still had a few things to finish up on our project, so we had to rotate the three who had to finish the DOR/POR final manuscripts. (I’d like to give a shout out to Jun Ru and Sam, who were both dual JWOs for Dawn Watch and managing to get rotations going so that everyone could finish their projects!) This went on until morning, where things got hectic.
To prepare for mission, we had to strike the jib and set the mains’l with the help of Cap and C Watch pre-turnover. I also got to be on the mains’l halyard which was very exciting since I hadn’t line handled in over 2 weeks due to my arm injury! With our 2nd Assistant Scientist Emily Dailey leading the line, we started heaving for our friends on deck, calling out each person’s name: “This one’s for Nathan! 2... 6… HEAVE!” After we set the main and turned over, C Watch had the deck. This was when the mission officially started.
Our mission was to conduct biological sampling for CALCOFI (California Cooperative Fisheries Investigation), which is a 72 year old ocean observation program that regularly samples in the California Current and Sothern California. We were tasked with conducting additional biological sampling for the month of August and had to sample within a 5 nautical mile radius of the three stations. What makes the mission extremely challenging is that each watch had to sail to the station, do a Neuston tow, process the net, and then do a 100 count – normally this is split between two watches. To top it off, the last watch, B watch, had to end at a designated point. We were told that the Mates and Scientists were going to step back and we were in charge of everything, although we always had to check in with our Mates and with Cap for things like setting or striking of sails, changing course, etc. Long story short: it was a challenge, and we nailed it. Now what I’ve written about what happened in the other two watches is mostly a recount of what the watch members said had happened on their watch, but should give you a picture of what happened.
A watch: Emily Matthews and Noah DRing their next position
C Watch planned to not have any JWOs or JLOs, and in the words of two C Watch members: “We just YOLOd”. They managed their rotations through a sort of a democracy where everyone had split responsibilities. Morning watch meant that C Watch also had to do chores, so their organisation was key. I happened to come on deck just as C Watch started doing their Neuston tow – I was previously in the galley prepping canelés for afternoon snack with Caleb, instead of sleeping right after dawn watch like I should have. When I was on deck, I noticed that the wind started to die off and that the Seamans was losing speed. This wasn’t good for a Neuston tow, since it meant that the net would sink instead of tow along the surface. They made multiple sail calls to try and fix the problem, but somehow it ended up with them performing a Neuston tow backwards. It all worked out though, and it seemed like they were spot on too – C Watch pulled the net out of the water at the centre of the circle.
A Watch had a different set up than B Watch. They designated Lexi as JLO, and deck had split responsibilities, although they designated Noah as the person who makes executive decisions. A Watch had quite the challenge: they had to cover a very long distance of around 40 nautical miles, and thus had the most sail handling and also needing to motor so that they could hit 8 knots. As A Watch also happened into an area of increased traffic, they got another problem to add into the equation: having to wait for almost half an hour for a huge boat to pass. This made them splash the net late into their watch, around a little bit over an hour before turning over. Lexi however, was a superstar and managed to complete the 100 count in 20 minutes and made sure that A Watch finished their mission.
Payton and our huge, crazy tow in the wet lab.
B Watch had an elaborate plan set up for the final leg of the mission. With the help of a pre-planned spreadsheet that we had plans to deviate on (and we did), we started mission with a split responsibility: me as the main doghouse and deck JWO, Sam as standby JWO, Nathan and Jun Ru as JWO for calling lines in the foredeck, and Payton as JLO. We were short one hand that watch unfortunately, so that called for a lot of planning and improv. We also had to do galley cleanup which was very difficult to do as for almost an hour, it was only Sam in the galley while the rest of us had to be posted on deck. There was a lot of sail handling that we did that watch as well: sheeting out the main, setting the jib, taking down the jib. I was extremely keen to participate in handling lines and being on the headrig (some people said I was grinning like crazy the whole time). It was mostly due to the wind dying, and we had to motor in the end. That did make us able to get to the circle to perform our Neuston tow and to the end point on time (although like A Watch, we also had to wait for a large vessel to pass). We somehow had a HUGE tow with a lot of seagrass, which according to Payton was an INCREDIBLE pain to process. But lab finished the 100 count, and we accomplished the mission! We ended at the end point when we were about to turn over. And to bring it back to full circle: we struck the mains’l with C watch.
And now, off to San Diego harbor!
- Christina Netta, B Watch, New York University
Shoutout: Nathalie – happy birthday mate! Cheers to your 20th, hope you’re having fun scuba diving.
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