About Me

My photo
I like running and science and I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. So I'm writing a blog or something.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life at Sea

Life is pretty routine now that we're over a week in. We travel from seamount to seamount, survey and name them, and then dredge promising looking places. Every dredge has come up differently so far: we've lost one, gotten one tangled, got pelagic ooze, only sediments, only manganese nodules, pillow basalts, or some combination of those and other rocks. We've also pulled up some corals and even a starfish. I believe we've dredged 13 times now. We have been naming the seamounts after characters in Moby-Dick or other whale-inspired names since Walvis means whale in Dutch (we're studying the Walvis Ridge if I haven't mentioned that).

If you click on one of the links in my last post before I left, you can see some deck cameras, and the one of the rear hanger with the A-frame is where we deploy and pull up the dredge. The dredging itself is not too exciting, we sit and watch the tension of the wire, bottom depth, how much wire is out and other data (on screens inside) as we travel over the dredge tract and then pull up the dredge and hope there are some good rocks. For a couple of dredges I was allowed to control the winch, which was kind of cool, though not really as exciting as it sounds.

One of my favorite jobs so far is throwing the rejected rock samples overboard. That may sound silly, but it allows me to get outside and just throw rocks into the gorgeous water. Another favorite on the ship is in the food department: the Elvis Cake one of the cooks made yesterday. It's basically banana cake with chocolate chips and peanut butter frosting. It was amazing, but also means that all of the bananas have basically gone bad. But that's ok because we still have other fresh fruit which I will continue to eat copious amounts of since by the end of the cruise, the food will not be based so much off of fresh produce.

I know this is kind of a random post, but I thought I'd email something in to document what's going on out here in the south Atlantic (I can't actually access my blog out here- I basically can only access email).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We got to our first seamount yesterday! This means we first surveyed it and then deployed a dredge. The first dredge seemed to be going well until the end when it got stuck on something (presumably rocks) and after a long time trying to free it, the chain broke and we lost the dredge. The second dredge wasn't much more successful: we came up with a dredge, but only a few sad little rocks. The seamount (more technically, a guyot) we called Ishmael, and it looks like we may be naming our seamounts after Moby-Dick characters.

Otherwise, this is basically what my life has been looking like during the day:

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm on a boat!

As you read this, I am somewhere in the South Atlantic Ocean heading west. We departed Cape Town on Saturday at 16:00. The students in the science party (of which I am a part of) are divided into 3 eight hour watches. I'm on the 09:00-17:00 (so think 9-5), which is awesome. So far all we've had to do is watch screens and log data, but once we reach Walvis Ridge we'll get to dredge rocks and they'll be lots to do!
Other things of note:
I have my own room and own bathroom/shower (most people have to at least share a bathroom).
There is a hot tub. Today I sat in a hot tub overlooking a deep blue ocean. It was amazing.
I won a game of hearts today.
The food is great, though I have a feeling the fresh fruit won't last too long.
I sleep really well with the rocking of the boat.
It's still kind of mind boggling to me that I'm actually on a big ship in the ocean of the coast of Africa, no less.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I was going to post a picture, but the cord I brought for my camera only lets me download all pictures at once and I don't have enough battery left in my computer as the power converter I brought does not work so I can't charge up my computer until the ship.

Anyway, today I got to see penguins! Lots and lots of African penguins.  I even swam near them and sat on the same rock as them.  It was amazing.  They are super adorable and they waddle and are really fast swimmers.  The penguin colony was in Simonstown, an adorable coastal city about an hour's train ride away from Cape Town.  I could have watched the penguins forever!

We just finished dinner at a nice Ethiopian restaurant that served us food in a traditional way (a bunch of dishes on a platter which you eat by scooping it up with a special bread thing made from a specific flour.  It was all really tasty.

Tomorrow we're taking a Gondola up to Table Mountain to hike.  I'm pretty tired from all the walking and swimming and sun and food today, so good night!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Made it to Cape Town!

2 hour flight to Portland + 9 hour flight to Amsterdam + 11 hour flight to Cape Town and I'm here!  With free, very spotty wi-fi in our hostel, so I'm going to quickly write something and then get it posted.  The back to back flights were actually not that bad, though I was exhausted when we got here.  I watched something like 7 movies and 5 TV episodes to pass the time.

Anyway, today we (5 students from OSU, one of their friends, and me) basically did a LOT of walking: exploring some parks and squares and the waterfront (which basically felt like Pier 39 in San Francisco). It's pretty hot and somewhat humid and I think I gained a few freckles.

A couple of observations:

  • Pigeons are very abundant and content (i.e. fat) here.
  • It doesn't really feel like a foreign country- everyone I have to interact with speaks english, fashion seems similar enough, and I could easily be in some American big city.
  • Except that there aren't lots of obese people, meaning it couldn't really be America.
  • The exchange rate makes it such that everything sounds expensive (30 rand for a small sandwich, for example) and I haven't quite wrapped my head around the conversion (somewhere around 8:1 rand:US$- I think) so I'm never completely sure if I'm paying a lot or a little for food (since food's the only thing I've bought so far).

We're going to Simon's Town tomorrow meaning penguins!! I'm super excited for that, of course.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

5 Things

Five things I will miss while in the South Atlantic:

1. Facebook. Because let's be honest, I spend a LOT of time on the Internet (ie partaking in social media).

2. Pub quiz. Monday nights (of all nights) is my most social night of the week and I enjoy my trivia and of course my teammates' company.

3. Beer. Also wine and any liquor, really. The ship is dry, and while that makes sense and I don't actually need alcohol, I do enjoy me a glass of it (or two) on the weekends or during pub quiz.

4. Running. Because 279 ft is not quite the distance a former marathon runner can be satisfied with when it comes to exercise.

5. My family. My friends too- I live with my parents and at the touch of ten buttons I can be in contact with any of my friends, but 3G does not exactly cover the entire Atlantic ocean.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane (or 3)

Saturday morning, I will be boarding a plane to fly from Sacramento to Portland, where I will board a different plane to Amsterdam, where I will then board a third plane to my final air destination: Cape Town.  I have three full days in Cape Town before having to be at the docks on the 9th (though we don't depart for the open ocean until the 11th).  As of now, my plan is to see the penguins and write postcards.  As long as I can do that, I'll be satisfied.

49 days at sea later, I'll be flying back to the states with a 24 hour layover in Amsterdam!

I'm told I'll have some internet access on the ship, so you can contact me via email while I'm offshore.  I will also try to update this blog as much as possible.

This will be the cruise's website (not currently up- if you go to the site right now it has information about a different research cruise): http://earthref.org/ERESE/projects/MV1203/  It will probably be more focused on the scientific aspect of the cruise.  There's also a page about the ship I'll be on (http://shipsked.ucsd.edu/Ships/Melville/ which has a link to a map with the ship's current location.