Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday May 15 and Sunday May 16 Update

Traveling to Costa Rica

Karen, Dennis, and Dan made it down to Costa Rica and out to the boat on May 12 with as few hitches as can be expected when traveling in Central America. Most of the rest of the group made it in on May 14 after meeting up in Miami, but a few of us wouldn’t be so lucky (Marques and Alison would join us on the boat the next morning May 15th). We, however, spent Friday night in housing at the University of Costa Rica and went out for a delicious traditional Costa Rican dinner. A special thanks to our wonderful host Carlos!!

Saturday May 15, 2010

The Melville is out at anchor away from shore, so when we arrived in Puntarenas we had to take a water taxi over to the boat. There was a mix-up over the location of the taxi and we almost missed it, but made it just in time! The taxi stops by a few times a day to take people and supplies back and forth to the boat from shore. Once we arrived on the boat we ate and got our room assignments. Along with our room assignments we each have a bunk number, which is an identification number we use on the boat. It is used for roll call and we each also have a cup and mug in the galley with our bunk number.

Since we’re still in port we haven’t started collecting data yet, but there is work to be done. Mostly we’ve been helping get things organized and ready to go. All supplies must be secured and tied down before we leave port so that nothing moves when the water gets more rough. Also, because we’re still in port they can’t use the desalinators on board, so our water supplies are getting low. We can’t do laundry and have to take navy showers (water on just long enough to get wet, turn the water off, soap up, and rinse quickly).

We also got a quick tour of the boat, though we definitely still get lost! We went up to the bridge where they control the boat, no steering wheel though… all joy sticks! There’s a great view from up there and lots of neat controls. There are also some cardio machines and free weights, a library with books and board games, a lounge with a DVD player and a nice stock of DVDs, laundry machines, an office, a science lab, and a few computers with internet access.

After getting settled we took the water taxi back in to land to have our last meal on solid ground for a month or so (and last beers for some, no alcohol allowed on the boat). Then we came back to spend our first night sleeping on the boat, which was definitely an interesting experience for some of us. The top bunks only have about two feet of clearance to the ceiling, so getting in to them for the first time was an entertaining challenge. The slight sway of the boat was pleasant for falling asleep.

Here is a picture of the R/V Melville, our home for the next five weeks:

Sunday May 16, 2010
Today some people got to sleep in for the last time over the next month, and some people got to have their last day of breakfast at a normal time until we’re back on shore. Tomorrow we start working our watch shifts, so everyone will have different sleep schedules. Everyone works two four-hour shifts a day, 4 hours on, 8 hours off. The shifts are 12-4, 4-8, and 8-12.

Today was another day of mostly just getting things organized, but there were a few highlights. One of the most interesting parts of the day was helping with “stores”. Two boatloads FULL of food and other supplies had to be unloaded onto the Melville and put away. When this happened all hands were called to deck to help out and we made a line and passed everything person to person down the line. Sometimes cranes were used to get some of the heavier supplies up on to the ship (for example boxes of eggs, flour, and rice) and otherwise they were tossed up person to person. It was amazing to see that much food in one place. Seeing almost 50 people’s worth of food for 5 weeks was really incredible and that didn’t count the food that’s already frozen.

Other highlights from the day included dolphin sightings off the bow and a lightning storm in the evening. We’re all excited to get underway tomorrow afternoon!

Piles of food on the water taxi, waiting to be brought on to the ship:

Lifting food off the water taxi and up to the ship with a crane on board:

The “stores” passing line:

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