By Darcy Perin (Dec 21st to Dec 28th 2021)
Week 1 of SR2114 felt like both a whirlwind blur and one of the longest weeks (possibly years) of my life. It felt so nice to be back on the Sally Ride and reunite with friends and crew members from our past expedition. One of the first things we did once on the boat was head (run) straight to the galley to see if our favorite crew member, the cook, Randy, was once again gracing us with his presence. Thankfully, he was. However, pretty soon it was straight to work. Our first task was to unload the shipping container containing all our gear. It must have taken at least 15 people to unload the entire container, in the Costa Rica heat no less, but we had it unloaded in less than an hour. Once unloaded and organized I began assembling the vacuum line system that is used to maintain and preserve the noble gas samples I will be collecting throughout the duration of the cruise. I have to say the second time assembling this system was much less stressful. Last year I was on FaceTime with our collaborator’s lab manager asking trivial questions for maybe three hours while this year I barely had to reference the instructions. We stayed in the Costa Rican port for two days, and then we set sail on December 23rd at 8am. We were only in transit for about 9 hours until we hit our first station.
Everything seemed to happen so quickly compared to last year. In fact, most of us were so absorbed in our work that we didn’t even realize it was Christmas until the night before. Randy of course did not disappoint with his amazing food, but there wasn’t much celebration since almost everyone worked straight through the holiday. But, hey, that’s what we’re out here to do. In our first week on board, we’ve completed about 20 stations, which is almost double the number of stations (11) we completed last year. We are also in a very productive region of the ocean, so there has been an abundant supply of animals. Just a few days ago we were swarmed by a pod of Minke whales. There has been sea turtles and dolphins and if you look out for a long enough you might see a stingray or manta ray jump out of the water.