Hello, you. Welcome back to the blog. Let me begin by stating that I am a bit daunted by the task of writing the blog tonight. This is the final one of this trip; that's it, the end. How do I sum up all that has happened these past weeks? Doubtless, if you are reading this, then you already have in mind a rough idea of the goings on here. But how do I transfer not only the what, but the feeling? How do I share this shipboard life with you so that you know it not only in your head, but in your heart as well? I will attempt to do my best with some mental snapshots of moments and feelings.
First, the what: On the first of April, 31 humans coalesced into one ship's company in Papeete, Tahiti. Shortly thereafter, we departed and set a course for Honolulu, Hawaii. We unexpectedly added some anchorage stops in Rangiroa and Nuku Hiva (in the Tuamotu and Marquesas island chains, respectively). Then we really went for it: we cut our tethers to the land and headed for the open ocean. Out in the big blue we used the trade winds and sailed, obviously. We also did science, obviously. And we continued to do that until we found ourselves off the windward coast of Hawaii, shrouded with clouds and buffeted by the trade winds. The data collection ended, and the synthesis of information began as we tucked around to the leeward side and made our way further north. On May 7th, we finally made it to our destination of Honolulu, Hawaii. On land, the students worked diligently to finish their papers and projects, culminating in a wonderful symposium yesterday. Today we visited a weekend market for yummy treats, gave our ship one last deep clean, and concluded our time together with a classic "talent" show (of sorts). Mental Snapshots: Hot. Unbelievably hot. Anticipation. Confusion. Reunion, Relief, Homecoming. Goodbye, spiky land. Living by the clock, but time has no meaning anymore. Vast, endless ocean. Boat Checker to Lookout, Lookout to Helm, Helm to Weather and standby for Boat Check. A doughnut of clouds on the radar. The tables aren't moving, the boat is moving around the tables. All sextants in use for evening star friend-zy; "mark!" Sitting on the lab top and breathing in the same breath of air that powers the main stays'l. Snuggling up to a sail or friend- both are comfy options. Are there any fish here at all? Flying fish everywhere, all the time- in the ocean and in the scuppers. Laughter and smiles. Judgement day, hail Neptune. Oh! Other people in the middle of the ocean! Gybing the boat, tacking the tubas. One set of muscles to stabilize you on deck, another set to stabilize you in your bunk. Top shelf pamplemousse that only gets better with time in the reefer. Ten squats for every ten meters of wire deployed. Tea time at 0330. A shared physical journey, but simultaneously on separate inward journeys. Homemade Wordle at breakfast. Bacon that has sat on the hutch for four hours, and tastes somehow better. Hushed voices and music with Orion and friends. Three boobies in the morning. Seven boobies in the evening, performing their best Blue Angel formations. Knowing each other, but also. who are you "real life"? White clouds cracking open, and the yolky sun sizzles and melts into the horizon. A welcome committee of charismatic megafauna. The smell of grass as we approach land. Eyes so full of dolphins and sunsets while the heart is simultaneously full of love and gratitude of shipmates. Community. I could go on for quite a while with these, but I doubt they would clarify much. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, I think that's a bit of the burden and beauty of these trips: the inability to fully get across the sense of what happens here. Take of these you will. Ask my shipmates questions. There is a need for processing and that may help (I know it would help me!). After sandwiching so much science, love, learning, and memories into 40 degrees of latitude, all I can think to really say is, "That's well, S-308". And I await the call back.
[Ruthann Monsees, B-Watch, Mate In Training]