On station! With anticipation I pull on my Grunden’s bibs and float coat for the last time of Leg 1 at the last station of the Point Hope transect line. For most of us on board, this is the last science day of our sea time as we begin our 30-hour transit back to Nome to disembark on the 24th.
The past 5 days have been spent on the oceanography transects of Icy Cape, Cape Lisburne, and Point Hope. We arrive at a station every hour or so and the work is fairly constant.
There have been many ups and downs and that isn't just because of the swells that make you bob in your seat in the galley. Equipment failures, bad weather, and learning new protocols made things slow initially, but we have most of the bugs worked out now.
At sea there is a lot of time for thinking, day dreaming, and processing things. When I ask people why they choose to pursue a career of work at sea it is often this removal from the troubles of day-to-day life that is so appealing. There is no worrying about the latest news happenings, no family responsibilities, no TV or phone service, and very spotty, slow internet that is only good for the occasional email. It is nice to have a pause from a busy life to have simple goals like filtering water samples and to be focused on science the whole time. It all helps you appreciate the little things a bit more. As the trip comes to an end I am really looking forward to not having to latch down doors when I leave a room or walk over tall thresholds, and getting a break from the endless noises of a boat. And there are many things that will be missed, like seeing different interesting creatures and new places every day.
In May, I packed up my beloved Juneau apartment and life there to start something new. It was my first time not commercially fishing in Bristol Bay with my family over the summer, and it was harder to be away than I expected. I have spent the last 10 weeks living out of a dry bag bouncing from my friends house to a bunk on the R/V Northwest Explorer for the Gulf of Alaska survey, camping, housesitting, and finally a bunk on the R/V Ocean Starr for the Arctic IES project. I am so thankful for all of the experiences and everything I have learned over the course of this internship. Now I’m off to Hilo, Hawaii to start an exchange semester and I am excited to have a place to call my own for a few months. I know after a few weeks of being away, the hard times will start to fade and the lure of sea time will again draw me back, as it seems to do year after year for the people that live by, work with, and study marine ecosystems.