Location: 6 23.59' S 115 36.30'W
Today just after lunch, we reached the halfway mark – not only halfway in our crossing (woohoo!) but also halfway across the largest expanse of open ocean in the world. 1440 nm to the east lies the Galapagos, 1440 nm to the west lies the easternmost island of the Marquesas. Interestingly, we are still on the same longitude as southern California, which is what you would hit if you went straight north, and to the south lies the remote Easter Island, being the only small bit of land currently between Antarctica and us. The Pacific is a pretty big place.
This morning I, along with the rest of watch team 3, was on the 8-12 am watch. I started out with a stint on bow watch and enjoyed a beautifully bright rainbow that looked like it was being rained straight out of the large puffy cloud above it. We then stayed busy conducting some science – first collecting a water sample and filtering it through two types of filers (one for nutrients and one for microorganisms), which we will send to the Indigo V Expeditions group, which is conducting research on the health of the oceans by sequencing the DNA of all of the microorganisms (mostly phytoplankton and bacteria) found in it. Jack and a few others then switched over to some nutrient sampling of their own, which they are collecting for their oceanography research projects. That group is looking at the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in relation to our distance from land. Other projects going on include a cetacean survey as well as a fish survey (this one also ends up with us getting some delicious tuna for dinner some nights), both looking at species diversity and abundance with relation to our distance from seamounts and other areas of upwelling. Another group is monitoring plastics in the ocean, while the last is keeping track of our meteorological conditions while on passage, with special attention to the types of clouds and any correlation between this and barometric pressure or wind speed. (In case you couldn’t tell, I am the oceanography instructor onboard.) After lunch, everyone worked on practice problems for navigation; we have completed all of the theory and are now just working on our skills to prep for the upcoming Nav master exam. Those who are choosing to pursue their Rescue Diver certification then met in the salon to go over the first set of knowledge reviews, and everyone else enjoyed some time to work on assignments or hang out up in the cockpit.
Time flies when you are on passage; days aren’t set things as you wake up and sleep at what would seem like bizarre times to most people. After about four days in, you reach a point where something you swear happened yesterday was really several days ago. “What watch do we have next?” “8 to 12” “No way, we had that yesterday… wait no, that was three days ago” Watch always provides a nice time to just hanging out with the rest of the crew – there is something refreshing about the fact that I HAVE to sit up on deck and enjoy the stars or a conversation with my fellow shipmates for four hours. It makes you slow down. Time is a weird construct out at sea. Especially since, as I write this, it is almost 8 pm, and the sun still hasn’t quite set. When you are at sea, you set the time zones. We are about at the point of needing to do a time change, which means adding an hour in, but we are waiting for a special occasion in which to use that hour – Monday night’s Argo Prom!
Addendum: I just went up on deck and immediately spotted the distinctively angled blow of a sperm whale – followed by spotting at least 12 more scattered across the horizon, beautiful backlit with the sunset. We all took a break from post-dinner cleanup duties to enjoy the whales as we passed by. A great end to the day!