OK, how will this work?

November 29th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

We launched.  We gathered all of our efforts from the last year and held our breath and launched out of New Bedford for the open sea. We landed first in Block Island, where locals were hunkering down for the winter in earnest. We spent two nights there and launched again to spend three days/nights offshore, my longest sail ever, and the first time I spent any significant time out of sight of land.


I originally wanted this blog to be a place where I could let my biology training produce…something… as I journey on this boat. OK, so how will this work?

There we were out in the sea and the wind died.  I was kind of losing it to begin with.  My friend Loren had just given birth to her son a week before, after 40 hours of labor.  I had no idea how long 40 hours was until I spent that long tossed around in a little plastic boat, seasick and exhausted. At the end of the second day the crew outvoted me and we kept on pushing for Norfolk in one shot. At the end of the third day, however, the wind died, and I rejoiced.

We were heading in. Hot shower, here I come. Feet on the ground. Food in a restaraunt.


On land I felt like a failure, a wimp. My crew were lobos del mar, seasoned captains who were reliable on watch, making repairs in their spare time, cheering me and telling me jokes instead of sleeping. I, on the other hand, felt broken, scared, overwhelmed. I barely spoke at dinner and shuffled off to sleep.

The next day I woke up in Wachapreague, Virginia, a town tucked in behind a winding salt marsh, where folks busy themselves hunting ducks, fishing for flounder and shucking oysters out of the mud.  I sat up in the dark at 5:30am, and crept out into the town. As luck would have it, there were a line of junky beach cruisers in the parking lot for guests.

vims hatchery oysters fishing

This town has a plankton farm for crying out loud! I drank coffee with the early morning hunting crowd, and tried my best to convert my recently-perfected south coast New England accent into a slight southern drawl. I ate pecans from a bag that definitely smelled like tobacco.  I was in Wachapreague, dammit, and this thing was finally rolling.




November 18th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

I got this snapshot from my plankton friend Michael, taken with his phone. Not too shabby!

Attached is a photomicrograph of a diatom (Chaetoceros) from a Hudson River plankton tow, taken with my iPhone! Held it up against the ocular – takes a steady hand, and this was about my 5th try.



resistance is not so futile

November 11th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Last night I resisted diel vertical migration. As the biomass around me heaved into soft clothes and toward their comfy beds, I resisted. I kept my coat on inside, and maintained a piping hot cup of tea next to me. At first you feel left out, like the pull of the night is drawing you down too, but if you can get to the other side of that influence, you unlock a surreal period of time that sharpens your senses and extends time infinitely.

I didn’t even see the sun come up.  Sue came over and took away my cold tea cup.  Fabio came out in his flannels with his hair sticking up and sleepy eyes blinking.  The dogs wanted their breakfast. I looked down at my work and realized, it wasn’t the best or the worst thing I had ever done, but somewhere in the night I had plowed through the heavy cycle I was caught up in and got to be alone and still.
out of phaseThis is a diagram (emphasis added) from a Zooplankton Acoustic Profiler, showing my position relative to the diurnal migration. Again, not to scale.

Where am I?

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