Friday, May 10, 2013

Life on the Water

Steel beach
"Steel beach" outside the bridge
Boat life is very simple. You lose track of the days. Cell service is nonexistent. Internet is iffy. You wake up for your shift, work for 12 hours, and then crash. But the Nancy Foster is a large enough boat that you can always find a spot to relax during down time between stations. Someone somewhere even created a "steel beach" up outside the bridge complete with a picnic table, potted plants, and lounge chairs more comfortable than your bed.

There are two other groups onboard, the NOAA Corps who do the driving and oversee all operations, and the engineers/electricians/ stewards who run the winches, make the food, hook up electronics, fix everything, etc. The science party and these other two groups communicate constantly to make sure everything is running the way it should be and to fix the inevitable problems that crop up!

Sometimes the swells come rolling through and the flat-bottomed Foster makes every wave seem like a roller coaster ... on those days, it's a lot more difficult to sleep and work (and practically everyone in the science party feels queasy, haha).

There are always surprises, like the flamingo that the bridge supposedly saw land on the boat the other day; we've also seen flying fish and dolphins jumping in the boat's wake. One afternoon someone saw what we think was probably an adult Mahi Mahi go by … another time a juvenile turtle floated past in the sargassum. And speaking of sargassum, we caught a sargassum fish (Histrio histrio) in one of our tows the other day. We released him (after taking about a thousand photos of him, first!)
Sunrise from the boat -- this is totally
normal but it never loses its magic!

Sargassum fish
Sargassum fish!

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