Only one day remains until we get underway! The excitement about setting off and going out to sea is becoming more tangible, as that time and date draws ever nearer.
In the meantime, our last day onshore docked in Auckland was well spent exploring the city. We had a 0640 wake up after our first night of practice standing watches. After a wonderful breakfast up on deck, we did another round of cleaning before mustering to head out to our first destination: the Auckland War Memorial Museum. An hour's walk took us to the large colonial-style-looking building just outside city central. The museum itself was vast, informative, and contained multitudes of information about a variety of topics, including Maori history and traditional art, New Zealand's natural history, volcanoes, and the country's involvement in both World Wars, the Boer Wars, and more localized New Zealand wars (all of which proved quite sobering and melancholic). My shipmate Lex and I were also given the opportunity to speak with one of the staff members at the museum in order to help with our projects for Sense of Place and Maritime History and Culture.
After lunch, we made our way over to the Auckland Art Gallery and had a rapid-fire guided tour of the exhibitions. We were then given one hour of research time before returning to the ship. We spent the next couple hours before dinner going over safety drills, such as man overboard, fires, flooding, and abandon ship. Each watch group, as well as each person within each watch group, were given specific roles about what to do in the event of any of these emergencies. Following a delicious dinner (fair warning that food will be a prominent and running theme in these blogs, because there is a lot of it!!!), we were given the opportunity to practice these drills. The hope is that we never have to actually utilize these newly learned skills, but it is definitely useful to have them under our belts before we get underway. This took us until 2030, at which point we were given the opportunity to attend a screening of The Princess Bride as a final excursion to land before our next few days at sea.
And thus we come to the end of another wonderful, busy day. We will stand another set of watches tonight, and then tomorrow, we set off for Russell. Calm seas are predicted. I can't wait to get underway and put the skills that we have been learning to the test. The ocean is calling to us all, and although it will only be a relatively short journey up to Russell, it will be a wonderful and exciting introduction to what it is like to be on a research vessel at sea in New Zealand. This is truly one of the most unique experiences of my life, and I am very happy to be here. Lots of love and hugs to everyone back home! I am sending lots of sunshine and good thoughts across the Pacific to you. I'm thinking about you all a lot, and wish you could be here with me. <3
- Ana Schlanzky, A Watch, Cornell University