It all starts with The First Time…

By Yang Liu, Graduate student at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami

Have I ever imagined my first RV (Research Vessel) experience? Of course, yes and many times. Wouldn’t any 4th-year oceanography graduate student who’d never been to sea picture one? But for me it never started with chill wind and lovely mountains in summer Iceland, never with midnight sunshine, but always with magnificent and broad-ever star sky during the nights, and also with a bit excitement, like a dark and stormy day with me like a brave sailor working on a wave hitting deck and soaked. Too much movies for the last one. I’m glad it didn’t happen this time. Besides, even without starlight, daylight is just like a blessing for people working night shifts, isn’t it?

Like most people first time sailing, I’m no exception to sea sickness. Thanks to the veterans on the ship, I recovered timely with their sea bands, salt crackers, ginger ales and useful tips. I could feel the temperature changes as we go to different seas, not from a contour figure in a computer screen. Even better, we have been filled with fun and surprises such as from inadvertent visits of whales, birds and even a little owl that probably has been staying on the ship the whole time. What a trip.

Today is a calm and sunny day, just like almost half of the days we’ve been through since we started out. Knorr is now on the westward route from coast of Scotland for the many upcoming CTD measurements as planned. Part of my work today is to help deploy and recover the CTD. Even though I had watched people deploying and recovering CTD several times during the calibration casts, I still didn’t feel confident before doing it myself, especially the recovering process. Basically, the recovery needs to hang the hook, buy augmentin online which connects the line used to stabilize and pull back the CTD frame, on one arm of the frame after it comes above water. At the first cast, the routinely ‘don’t screw up’ voice became louder and louder deep in heart, and not surprisingly I didn’t manage it finally. Because the long stick that we use to deliver the hook overboard has a bit weight. I thought it might be out of my strength. After being instructed by Dr. Johns, I learned how to leverage by holding the stick with an appropriate distance between my hands and pressing the inboard half stick to lift the overboard half, which has the hook on it. Then I practiced several times before I gave my best shot at the second cast today. And, the practice did pay off just perfectly. I chuckled like a kid in the end and couldn’t wait for the third cast…

To me, everything in this cruise is fresh. Being on the ship for 2 weeks trained me to think about every worst-case scenario due to unwelcome conditions at sea and work with people to avoid them in advance. I learnt how to use gravity other than against it, to give some help on deck for mooring deployment, to prepare and listen to the LADCP before cast, to deploy and recover the CTD, and even to use a wrench and tie a strap, and learn many English words that are only used when working with people at sea. I feel so appreciative to have my first time being at sea with great people in a great RV. There are about 10 days to go, and with all the help, I think I’ll be good at the things that I’ve been working on by the day that I step on land again. Perhaps I’ll be a sailor 🙂

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