Here I am back in Maine at the Darling Marine Center after the unloading of our freight from the shipping company trailer truck. Nineteen pallets of equipment for one cruise! (Photo by Linda Schick)
Marine Science is glam! (Photo by Bill Caddigan)
One thing I won't miss: working in a plastic bubble.
Here I am in the lab adding acetone to filtered phytoplankton cultures to extract the chlorophyll.
(Photo by Bill Caddigan)
A flurry of activity on deck at one of our sampling stations.
(Photo by Bill Caddigan)
Filtering! (Photo by Bill Caddigan)
And more filtering! (Photo by Bill Caddigan)
Once, we hit the dock, the crew was able to offload all of our gear right away. We always try to have our stuff ready to offload as soon as the ship docks so we can get out of the way, because often the crew has to load the next group on immediately. We always schedule a freight pick up for the afternoon that we get in. So, by 4 pm all of our gear was gone from the dock....
I am shore side now and back in the lab at the Darling Marine Center. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be finishing the data entry and analysis from the cruise incubations. Some of the preliminary data look really interesting and I am actually looking forward to pouring over the results. It is probably difficult to understand if you have never worked in a similar situation. You would think that after working 10-15 hours a day for 29 of the last 30 days, I would be ready for a break. But, in reality, I get so accustomed to working that it is difficult to slow down. I will be able to take a break when the preliminary data analysis is done.
For me, it takes a while to decompress from cruises. On the ship, you live with the same roughly 50 people every day and night for a month. You work with them, eat with them, take breaks with them, solve problems with them, sometimes argue with them, and have some really good times with them. New friendships are formed; some closer than others; some continue after the cruise, some don’t. But for a few weeks, your cruise mates are a surrogate family and there is a sense of loss when that family splits up.
Of course there are lots of things I won’t miss at all; like the showers, the acetone bubble, trying to sleep in rough seas, the toilets (they are vacuum powered and loud), having to tie down everything (and that means everything), eating from a sliding plate, pouring chemicals when the ship is rolling, walking on an angle, bruised arms, working long hours, the sound of the GO FLO winch, working in the plastic bubble, my stinky cruise sneakers.
It is always a week or two before I want to be around groups of people and longer than that before I can be civil in a crowd. Lisa, Jen and I went to the Pike Place Market in Seattle the day after the ship docked and I had to keep going outside to get away from the noisy tourists and shoppers. I find idle chatter particularly annoying when I return from a cruise. The ship itself may be noisy but it is far from the clamor and clutter of TVs, radios, phones, politics, news, etc. and in that distance is a kind of solitude and peace that I miss when I return.
I wanted to include more pictures of the science crew working in this blog entry, as it occurred to me that the last few entries made it look like we were just having too much fun. We wouldn’t want the powers that be to get that impression, heaven forbid. Although, technically, I don't think they can ban fun without infringing on basic civil liberties....
Thanks to everyone who has followed the blog. It was enjoyable to write and it is awesome that so many of you are checking in. Thanks also, to everyone who sent an email comment or question. And thanks to my cruise mates who let me use their photos for the blog and for everyone who allowed themselves to be photographed for it. If any of you have further comments or questions, I can be reached at
email@example.com. If you would like more information about our lab, we have a web site http://www.marine.maine.edu/~wellsm/Homepage.htm.
For those of you who would like to learn more about the Darling Marine Center, check out the Center web site at http://server.dmc.maine.edu/.
And if you find yourself in Maine, stop by. The Darling Center has tours in the summer, you can get more information by calling (207) 563-3146, ask for Lisa or Linda.