Posted by: adorsk | September 25, 2008

Time, The Senses & Barbecue

Note: I originally wrote this post around 2008-08-21.

There’s a flux capacitor somewhere on this ship. How else can I explain how quickly time seems to move by? It’s hard for me to believe that the cruise is already half-way over.

Science is into a steady routine now. Usually we arrive on station in the morning and do casts until mid-afternoon. The science party processes their samples in the evening while we zig-zag to the East.

I already wrote about the science in my previous post. This time I’ll wax poetic and focus on the sea.

The Sea & the Senses

Vision

Sometimes the sea is a sculptor; I could watch the stern wake for hours and never see the same pattern twice. I’ve thought of putting a strobe light on the stern wake at night. Every flash would illuminate a landscape of black pillow lava rendered in glass.

Sound

The sea is a constant talker. There is always the ‘Blue Noise’, a ceaseless conversation between the ship and the sea. When the ship is steaming there is a sizzling hiss. On calm days there are ker-plunk glockenspiel sounds as the ship eases up and down the swells. And then there are the days when the sea crashes and flies about, as if someone had thrown a bee hive into a percussion section.

Touch

With respect to touch the sea is either an acupuncturist or a fire hose. Acupuncture comes on windy days; the spray feels like needles on the skin. On days with high seas the waves shoot up through the railing gutters like a fire hose blast.

Water through the chocks (photo by RF)

Water through the chocks (photo by RF)

Taste

The sea has many flavors, like a fine wine. There is the ’98 Gulf Stream: brine with tropical notes. Or the 2005 Georges Bank: cool base with accents of plankton.

Texture does vary. In places where there are lots of plankton, like Georges Bank, seawater has a definite grittiness. Out in the middle of the ocean it’s smooth.

By now you are surely jumping to hold your own seawater tasting. Here is the proper protocol: crouch down low on the deck and watch the waves carefully. Get to know their frequencies until you think you have the timing down. When you are absolutely sure you won’t get hit by a wave turn your head away for just one second. At this point a wave will come crashing into you. Imbibe through the nose. Savor. Spit.

Smell

The sea is least variable in smell. In the middle of the ocean the air is pure and fresh. It is the most refreshing air I have ever tasted. The smell at sea only changes when other ships pass. Cattle ships have a particularly strong influence.

BBQ & Night Life

One night we had a barbecue. I think barbecues have a special significance at sea. They are like holidays. We all take a break for a couple hours just to sit outside and chat. They make us realize the passing of time. At sea it is very easy to lose track of time and meaning. Barbecues become like a good religion. They make us sit back, think, and appreciate.

J at the grill

J at the grill

BBQ Fantail

BBQ Fantail

BBQ by the Capstan

BBQ by the Capstan

BBQ & CTD Bottles

BBQ & CTD Bottles

The ship’s night life has settled in now. When we’re steaming there are nightly showings of ‘Dexter’, the ship’s current favorite TV series. Occasionally cries of ‘Yahtzee’ echo out of the library from people playing board games.

When we’re on station at night J, our steward, likes to fish. He often catches squid that are attracted by the ship’s lights. The squid are amazing. They flash brilliant red in the water as they pounce on his hook. When he brings them on deck they puff up, hiss, and ooze ink. Then they slowly deflate and change from bright red to pale white as they expire. It is both horrifying and beautiful to see them die.

Squid Watching

Squid Watching

Squid

Squid

To Cape Verde

Soon we’ll be at Cape Verde. Check back in a couple weeks to see how it goes.

Various Pictures

The Daily Schedule

The Daily Schedule

Mops

Mops

CTD Going In (photo by RF)

CTD Going In (photo by RF)

C Working on a Block

C Working on a Block

C & the Sunset

C & the Sunset

M Looks for Jellyfish

M Looks for Jellyfish

P & S Sampling from the CTD

P & S Sampling from the CTD

G & J Catch a Fish

G & J Catch a Fish

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Responses

  1. I love your blog posts! Thanks for writing them 🙂

    Do you eat the squid that you catch?

  2. Hi Christie,

    It’s nice to hear from you.

    We most emphatically do eat what we catch. I found freshly-caught squid to be about the same as regular squid.

    Freshly-caught fish, however, are incredible. There’s nothing quite like tasting mahi-mahi that was in the water 8 hours before…


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