Monday, October 8, 2007

Back on dry land

While Aaron has been biking and visiting family in the US I have been hard at work on the NIWA research vessel, the Tangaroa, for the last month. We were working off the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand mapping and sampling a series of submarine canyon systems that transport sediment from the Southern Alps out to the deep ocean.

It was great to be at sea again and get some more hands on experience, something I don't think I've had enough of in the past. I was sea sick for the first day, but after that I felt fine even when it got pretty rough with over 60 knot gusts and 10 m swells. However, we were really lucky as we only had a couple of storms go through, one at the beginning of the trip and one at the end, the rest of the time we had beautiful calm, sunny days with some great views of the Southern Alps and some spectacular sunsets and sunrises. We also saw lots of wildlife with some pilot whales, dolphins, seals and basking sharks (although I personally didn't see the sharks). There were also lots of birds including albatrosses, mollymawks and other little black and white ones (can't remember the names of).

Mt Cook and the snowy Southern Alps.

Sunset over the Tasman Sea.

Dolphins came up to check out the ship.

Unfortunately I was on the 4am to 12pm shift (not the best time of day for me). My shift mate John Mitchell found me highly entertaining as I was not the most chatty person at 4am - in fact I didn't make much noise until after 8am and several cups of coffee.... Probably worked out best for both of us as we didn't get annoyed with each other as we hardly spoke for half the shift! John was great as he was really patient with me and taught me how to operate and run the multibeam and how to set up and deploy the different types of cores and grabs. We also did 5 days of seismic, so it was good to get some experience of a whole range of techniques.

Me, Annette and Fay dressed in our flotation jackets and hard hats waiting for a core to come up on deck.

When I wasn't working I spent a good deal of time playing scrabble with the girls on deck. I also managed to make it to the gym occasionally and ride a few kms on the exercise bike to keep my fitness up and try and keep the weight off. The chef on the boat was really good so it was hard not to eat too much when he was making some great food. Snacking every two hours to stay awake is also not very good for the waistline. I haven't dared weigh myself since I got back.

Scrabble out on deck enjoying the sunshine and scenery
Well back to reality..... and cooking my own dinners!

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