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Transit back to San Diego

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

By: Maggie Gaspar


Photo by Darcy Perin

I fully believe there is no better way to have ended such a challenging year and begin a new year with motivation and hope than our overseas New Years celebration complete with movies, a piñata on the back deck, and delectable late night snacks! As we head north into a storm system, the winds and swell have picked up to a noticeable measure, therefore being blindfolded, spun around, then instructed to swing at a pinata swinging in every direction truly subjected our sea-legs to the ultimate test. This bigger swell might seem frightening, but to be frank; I love the way the ship pitches with every swell, sometimes dropping from the crest of a wave to its trough and making you feel as if you’re momentarily in free fall. The exhilaration of standing on the very front of the bow and watch as the hull crashes into waves, sending up a wall of ice cold and very saline water, is unmatched. Crunchy bits of salt in my eyebrows and eyelashes linger there for the rest of the day. My days and nights have all looked very differently since leaving our last station in the ODZ. Compared to the few hours of nightly sleep I received during the rush of completing my incubation experiments nearly all day long as the ship stays positioned over one single station, I have slept like a baby these past couple nights of our transit home. The pitching and rolling of the ship in these tall wind-blown swells rocks me right into a deep, peaceful sleep. All that restful REM fuels me for a relaxing day of reading, packing up our supplies, and now talking to more crew members than ever! Nearly all of them have mentioned what a great research technician I would make!! Any time I feel stressed about the work I am doing, I just remind myself that I am at least working in the right direction.

Now that I am able to reflect on the insanity of the sampling and performing experiments on each of the stations; I feel confident that I did my best with all the preparation I was given through the “rehearsals” of my incubations in Annie’s laboratory. I was aware that this was not going to be a leisure cruise and that my experiment was an incredibly involved process that required a large time commitment. Though I knew of the rushed nature of these research cruises, I could have never prepared myself for the frantic energy of running between the cold-room and my lab station, the helplessness as I watch the refresh symbol on my browser roll around and around as I wait for an email with essential instructions to load, the extreme frustration of breaking a sample bottle, nor the fatigue of sleeping for three hours between one CTD cast and the time in which I had to tend to my incubations. I feel as if our blindfolded and dizzy (sometimes successful) attempts at hitting the piñata amidst waves crashing left, right, up and down, is the perfect analogy for my experience during the dedicated science days. Though every wave of emotion and stress felt like it would cause me to fall over, again and again I was able to gain control and take another swing until finally, it found its mark and lead to a great abundance.

Photo: Darcy Perin

Photo by Maggie Gaspar

Photo by Darcy Perin

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