Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our first, and possibly last, day on the water...

Home ship home.
On Friday afternoon, we departed from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and began the first leg of our 12 day journey.

3 hours of driving led us down Route 13 through the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, across the series of bridges and tunnels that span the mouth of the mighty Chesapeake Bay, through Virginia Beach and into Norfolk, VA.

We arrived at the NOAA dock, passed through security, rounded the corned and Voila! Our home for the next 12 days lay before us, quieting floating in the Elizabeth River.

The R/V Gordon Gunter (hey, look! I spelled it right this time), originally built as a Navy ship, the Relentless, is now a scientific research vessel run by NOAA.

For those of you not in the 'NO' (AA), it stands for
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

We load our gear, meet with the Field Operations Officer, and head out into Norfolk to grab a bite to eat. Since there are approximately 14 of us eating dinner, we don't get back to the ship until 11 pm. Everyone heads to bed of a night of uneasy sleep in this loud, unfamiliar place.

We've already made a mess of the place.

The cabins we are in are surprisingly spacious, with a dresser, a desk, a chair; all the comforts of home. Actually more, since I don't have a desk at home, unless you count the coffee table. We were all pleasantly surprised by how nice the accommodations were.

During lunch, we realize we are in the process of getting underway. We head up to the flybridge, a small observation deck above the bridge, where we can check out the port and take pictures as we are leaving.

Norfolk is a major port on the Atlantic Coast and has an extremely large military presence. I guess that's sort of a "DUH" for most people, but coming from the West Coast (in particular, Oregon), the whole Navy thing is pretty new to me. Like, I knew it existed, but I never really saw signs of its presence. Sort of like Santa Claus. A well armed Santa Claus.

Leaving Norfolk behind....or so we thought.
At 12:30, we have a meeting to go over our watch assignments and the projects we'll all be working on. Everyone is eager to hear about when their allotted bedtime is for the next 11 days. The watches are from noon to midnight and midnight to noon. No one is quite sure which is better, but I am pretty sure I couldn't handle a midnight to noon shift....but if that was my shift, I'd have to adjust.

Luckily, I was assigned to the noon to midnight shift....not that it matters.....

Is that an ATAT? You'll have to ask
George Lucas....

Upon arriving to our meeting, we are informed that a component in the engine room ventilation system has broken and we are returning to the dock. This repair may take some time, but we won't know until they can take the part out and see what was wrong.

So we were on the water for approximately 2 hours...and that's all we've done so far. Other than wait around, hoping to hear one way or the other, what the next 11 days has in store for us. Make that 10 now....