Ahoy! I've had a very enjoyable first three days getting used to life at sea aboard the Okeanos Explorer. I've gained a new appreciation for what it means to lead the life of a mariner and be a seafloor mapper.
The other big thing that happened on the first day was the change of command ceremony. Commander Pica, who had captained the Okeanos since its commissioning in 2008, was succeeded by Commander Kamphaus, another highly competent NOAA Corps Commander. They had a brief ceremony on the ship's bow with Guam still in the background. Then, two crewmembers ferried Pica ashore in a small boat. Typically, commands last about 2 years in the NOAA Corps.
Once the crew were all aboard, we began our northeastward journey towards Hawaii. Since the mission of the Okeanos Explorer is to map wherever it goes, we began mapping right away. I was assigned to the 4pm-midnight watch for this cruise, so I ended up working from about 9am when the drills began to midnight on my first day! It was tiring, but exciting because everything was new to me. Throughout my first night monitoring the multibeam sonar system, we drew closer to the Mariana Trench, which we crossed early the next morning. I hope to show a 3D perspective view of our transect across the world's deepest subduction zone trench in an upcoming post.
I settled into a daily routine over the second and third days of the cruise. Since my watch is the 1600-2400 time slot, I go to bed late and therefore get up in the mid-morning. I workout, have lunch, and spend the afternoon relaxing or doing my own thing before my shift. I brought plenty of work to keep me busy, so filling the time is not a problem. Motion sickness hasn't been an issue for me, although sometimes I find that I do need to lie down or go outside to shake the queezy feelings away.
Although the Okeanos Explorer has a state-of-the-art satellite communication system, it's not turned on for this cruise leg, so we're left with only very slow internet most of the time. This affects my ability to efficiently write blog posts and include rich content like photos. In fact, there is a big satellite coverage hole in the central Pacific, so when we cross it, we'll be without internet altogether for a few days. I'll do my best to get another post out before we enter that communications blackout zone.
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