Date: Sunday September 16, 2016, 14:57 (now on PST)
# days since arriving on Tara: 16
Current Location: 25 05 408 S; 121 31 631 W
Current Speed: 9.5 knots using both engines
Max Wind Speed in the last 24 hours: 12 knots
Current wind speed: 4.5 knots hence the double engines
# of hours before we reach our next destination, Ducie Island: 23
# of times my head hit my hatch today: (0! But, there is still time)
# of Nautical Miles Tara has gone since it left France: ~11,000
# of Marine Life Animals Seen in route to Ducie Island: 11 birds, 5 flying fish (4 alive, one dead on the deck), 3 jellys, and 1 green plastic jug mistaken for a turtle
# of other boats seen on the radar: 0 since Easter Island
# of pots de crème I have eaten in 24 hours: 4
# of papers written since arriving on Tara: 0
Amount of science in last blog: 0
Amount of science in this blog: 0
Amount of science in next blog: Undetermined. Likely 0
# of French words learned in the last 24 hours: 8
# of French words learned in the last 24 hours that I can repeat on this blog: 0
So it’s Sunday. Sunday Sunday Sunday! A few things are different on Sundays. We get to eat meat, and it is drill day (fire drill today at 16:15). And yes, I said we get to get meat today. Meals on Tara are almost 100% vegetarian (vegetarian being no animals with four or two legs shall be consumed) with Sunday as the exception. Strangely enough I hadn’t even noticed that the food lacked meat until last Sunday when someone pointed it out. That is how delicious and amazing the food has been, that it’s so good, meat is not necessary at all. Although, I will admit, after a week with no protein other than cheese, fish, and shellfish I was super excited. So today we ate an insane lunch of braised and herb crusted pork in duxelle (mushroom) sauce with roasted potatoes and carrot salad. Oh and coffee pots de crème. Wheeeeeee!!
Now I thought I was gonna come home thinner and tanner than before. Ixnay that first part for sure. So given the 10,000 calorie meal, after brunch I led an impromptu yoga class on the deck. Since the seas are so light and following it wasn’t an impossibility. In fact, it was quite a success, and several others of the crew and science team want to do it tomorrow too. Ideally in two days we can find a remote beach and even get the whole boat to Downward some Dog at Ducie Island. Namaste, people. Namaste.
In other news, last night I was on watch from midnight to 2am. Sounds tough but it was actually one of my favorite parts of the day because it’s so rare to see the skies at night in a place where there is literally NO light pollution other than that from the moon. Also how often can you see the sky in 360 degrees? Every star is brilliant and any meteors that streak across the sky are breathtaking. Sadly, I think we are going to just miss the new moon, but I can only imagine the sky around here in the middle of the ocean on a completely dark night. I’m off tonight but will definitely stick my head outside after dinner to see if the skies are clear again.
Tomorrow, we reach our second sampling site, Ducie Island (I know it’s a super weird name), which is in the Pitcairn Islands, some of the most remote places in the world. A recent paper by Friedlander et al. (I guess there is some science in this after all, whoo hoo) suggests that this island has some of the largest top predator biomass of any island in Polynesia, with ~33% of all the biomass being in the form of large bitey things. How nice. It is also home to many more species of reef-forming corals that take up another 33% of the biomass. So sharks and Scleractinians will be found in abundance, and I mean abundance. Or so we are told.
Now fish stories are fish stories, so I’m trying to keep my expectations low which is a nice way to live cause you are always pleasantly surprised. I think in this case I’ll be pleasantly surprised no matter which way the fish story goes. Basically I’m also trying to keep my apprehension about the bitey things at minimum too. But just this morning one of the French sailors aboard, Fanch, said that when he was there 4 years ago, there were so many sharks that everyone GTFOed from the water. Then, in a somewhat sympathetic tone, he said, “but it will probably be fine for you though.” Probably. Oh good. Good old… “probably!” A favorite word of mine. Goes nicely with “well maybe” and “likely” and “who knows if” followed by “you’ll get eaten.” So if you don’t get a new post by tomorrow night…. “probably” was more like “actually” or “certainly” or “I’ll put money on it.” So sailors, wish me fair winds tonight and recently well fed sharks tomorrow.