Friday, June 6, 2014

And It Was Over, Just Like That...

Sunrise at 04:45.

I woke up at 04:15, unable to sleep any longer.  I had been through the Ballard Locks before, so I thought that I would just sleep through our passage scheduled for 05:00, but I just couldn't do it.  I have never through the Locks at sunrise, so I walked out on deck in my shorts and t-shirt, and saw an orange glow over the horizon and decided that I was up for the day.  I went back down, put on my shoes, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed back on deck.

Waiting at the Locks.

Securing the R/V Melville at the Ballard Locks.

Going through the Ballard Locks is necessary because we are passing from the salt water of Puget Sound, into Portage Bay's fresh water.  Built into the Locks is a salmon ladder, which allow the fish to pass between fresh and salt water. Lined below the salmon ladder, are glass panels which allow visitors the opportunity to witness the fish navigate the Locks.

Rachel Vander Giessen's 
boyfriend is up early to greet us.
L to R:  Dr. Mark Wells (Univ. of Maine),
Dr. Charles Trick (Western Univ.) and Dr. William Cochlan

Most of the scientists gathered on the 02 deck to watch the operation take place between the ship's crew and the workers on the Locks.  As we pulled in, large doors closed behind the R/V Melville.  Water began to fill the space occupied by the ship until it rose to the same level as the freshwater side.  Once we reached the same height, the doors in front of the vessel, giving us passage into Portage Bay.

As we slowly steamed toward the University of Washington, we sailed under several drawbridges.  Drivers temporarily unable to complete their morning commute, got out of their cars, and watched us pass underneath them.  We waved back at each other as the R/V Melville continued toward the UW dock.

Passing under a drawbridge.

Also joining us were several university crew teams, rowing alongside us.  Several recreation rowers inadvertently cruised into our path, inciting a blast from the ship's foghorn.  I nearly spilled my coffee from the loud warnings...

When we finally reached the docked, we were greeted by Dr. Jan Newton (Univ. of Washington-APL) along with employees from the university.  Once the gangway was lowered, several scientists made their way off the vessel, receiving handshakes and hugs after setting foot again on soil.

Tying up to the dock.

Deploying the gangplank.

Getting ready to set foot back on land.
We are docked at the 
University of Washington.

Within the next hour and a half, we managed to move almost all of containers off of the ship.  The sun was now much hotter than at any other time during the cruise.  
Julian Herndon was on the dock, tying knots onto boxes that were set to be picked up by a shipping company.  The NOAA group started shuttling their items from the ship to their offices, just a short distance away.  Everybody pitched in with cleaning and returning the R/V Melville's lab to an empty space, ready for the next science group set to board on Sunday.

Offloading equipment from the R/V Melville.

By 14:00, some of us headed up to a local restaurant so we could enjoy a small bit of normalcy.  Even though we were excited to be off of the ship, we couldn't help but shift our conversation toward the work did in the past 25 days.  We were reminiscent of the first days.  We exchanged stories, shared a few laughs and talked about the future.  

We returned back to the ship an hour later.  There were still files to copy and transfer, as well as more cleaning to be done.  Some of us will take a nap, resting up for our gathering at our favorite local pizzeria. There's comfort in going back to where we've ended our previous cruises.  There we will sit together, one last time as a team, to celebrate a successful research cruise.

Thanks again for reading.  I will write one last post after I return to Houston.  I hope that you will share my experience.  We are all connected by our world ocean.  We have a responsibility to protect it.

The deck is now cleared.

The empty lab.
View of Seattle.

Even dogs appreciate the ocean.

R/V Melville - Salty since 1969.
This is for my former USC classmate, Titi Dang.  "Wish you were here."  Trojans forever.


  1. Once again, I would like to Thank You So Much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to write this blog each and every day you were at sea!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it each and every day!! I may have even learnt a thing or two!! LOL.
    Again, it was very much appreciated.

    1. Thank you. I was a pleasure to have been able to give some insight as to what we did at sea.

  2. Really enjoyed this Denis. Would never have known you hadn't blogged or tweeted before -- you were a natural at it! Great work.

  3. Thanks Joel! It was a lot of fun. I hope that more teachers consider bloging and tweeting in their lessons.