Happy 21st birthday Lauren! I love and miss you so much. I wish I could be with you to celebrate. Have a drink or two for me! I wish I could give you something to show you how much you mean to me, but since I’m thousands of miles away from you, and over a thousand miles into the Pacific Ocean, this is my gift to you. Here are some moments I wish I could have shared with you since I’ve been on my journey.
- One night I was standing on lookout at around 1:15 in the morning. This means I stand at the front of the ship riding the waves and watching for any other ships or storms in the distance. While scanning the horizon, I heard splashing in the water. My first thought was that I was still asleep and was going crazy since it was the middle of the night. Then I looked down and saw a pod of dolphins making their way to the head of the boat. You could hear their squeaks and snickers over the noise of the ship. Their paths lit up in a blue haze from the bioluminescence in the water. They surfed the wake at the front of the boat while crossing paths and leaping in and out. This was one of the most beautiful moments I have experienced in my life, and I feel so lucky to have seen it. I wish you were there with me; you would have loved it!
Smiles all around after jumping into the Pacific Ocean.
- Life on the open ocean is amazing, no land in sight and just miles and miles of blue water. But the scary part is that it extends not only horizontally, but vertically as well. To make sure we stay sharp on safety protocols, we practice fire, man overboard and abandon ship drills. When we were practicing one day, we were simulating an abandon ship scenario and my captain told me to go get a bathing suit on. I thought he was joking, but sure enough, a few minutes later I went to the very front of the ship (the bowsprit) and jumped off into 4,467 meters of water. It was one of the scariest but also most freeing experiences I have had in my life. It was so refreshing, and the water was so warm, 25 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. It was amazing to be surrounded by the crystal-clear water and to swim in the Pacific for the first time!
- Every day we set fishing lines off the back of the boat. We normally catch one or two fish a day, mainly Mahis and some Tunas. Did you know that Mahis travel with a partner, so sometimes when we get one, we get a second one only moments after! If we get one that is big enough, we keep it, filet it, and eat it for dinner that night. I have never had fish so delicious! Our stewards, Jackie and Paul, are amazing and make us 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. We have a lot of fresh produce on board and keep our fruits and some veggies out on the deck in hammock nets. Maybe it is because I haven’t had bananas in a while, but the sun-ripened bananas were the best bananas I have ever tasted. They were so sweet, definitely better than Wegmans!
- Along with jumping from the bowsprit at the front of the boat, wealso are sometimes allowed to lay out on it when we have free time and are not on watch. With the sun shining and a nice breeze, it is so relaxing. But the best part comes when you look in the water. You can see the rainbow iridescent shine of tunas speeding through the water. Their color and quickness are surreal to see in real life. I can’t even imagine what else lays below the surface.
- We have field day every week, where all 39 of us scrub the boat clean. This is the one day we can listen to music out loud, and everyone works together instead of splitting into watch groups. Then after the boat is clean, we clean ourselves! We break out the fire hose and everyone takes a shower on the deck together. We even made an impromptu slip and slide!
- We have 3 different roles on watches. We are assigned to either deck, lab, or dishes. On deck, we make sure the boat is running smoothly and there are no issues. And in lab, we do all of our science! Every morning we deploy a CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) which traps water from depths as deep as 1,000 meters! We also use meter nets and neuston nets to collect marine organisms. I have seen the coolest critters: medusas (mini jellyfish), lots of shrimp, and tons of zooplankton! The other night when I was on evening watch, which is from 1900 to 1000 (7pm to 1am), we got out the squid light. We pointed a bright light off the side of the boat and waited. The squid and fish are attracted to this light and rose to the surface. I got to see a bunch of squid glide and propel themselves through the water, going after little fish for a snack; it was so cool!
- The sunsets, sunrises, and stars are insane out here. With no light pollution besides moonlight, the stars fill the sky. The sunsets are filled with oranges and pinks reflecting across the ocean. And the sunrises are one of the best things to wake up to at 7am. I have taken to cloud watching and finding different figures in the sky. We are over a thousand miles into our journey, and we see so many birds! It’s so crazy that they travel this far out from land. But I have learned that when they sleep, they have an autopilot feature to keep flying! Mind-blowing but there’s not much for them to hit out here (although, we did see a large log in the water the other day)! So crazy to be so far from land but still be connected in some ways.
Happy birthday! I love you tons! I hope you have an amazing day; you deserve it! Talk to you soon, keep sending me updates!
Hey Mom, Dad, Kyle, Abby, Alyssa, Carlee, and Casey!
I love you and miss you all tons! I am having an amazing time on the boat, and I never got seasick! I have been sleeping a lot better and love the work we do. We are learning super cool stuff and getting hands-on practice. I can’t wait to show you all pictures when I get back. Give Carlee and Casey lots of hugs and kisses from me!
P.S to mom: I really want some Patagonia Baggies shorts (2 inch or 5 inch inseam) for my bday or Christmas 😉
Love you all!
P.P.S. from Brighton: love and miss all you guys! Spending my days getting pooped on by lots of birds!
P.P.P.S. from Katie to Mom: my computer broke but I’m making it work, there are extra on boards 🙁 P.P.P.P.S. this is made possible by Marshall & Son, Inc. est. 2022, accident-free since October 8th, 2022
Lexi Valachovic, C Watch, Cornell University