Spring Break: Continental Shelf – Days 1 and 2

Sorry about the lack of updating yesterday.  Like any good marine biologist I’ve been sidelined with a massive case of seasickness.  I seem to be over it now so here’s a quick recap of the past couple days.  Pictures will be added in a future post after my laptop get scanned for viruses tomorrow.

Day 1 – Launch

After clearing things up at the pass office, I’m finally able to get onto the Navy base where the Bigelow is docked.  I get my stuff on, meet everyone who’s onboard so far, and settle into my room.  It turns out that about half the staff and volunteers will be meeting us on the water via small boat, which seems pretty badass to me.

Day 1 is mainly made up of a shakedown cruise out to Block Island and back, during which I mill about, socialize, make sure all my gear is secured, and snap pictures like the tourist I am.  Later that afternoon the remainder of the crew show up, we do the orientation and safety drills, then set off in earnest.  There are rumors of foul weather on the way, but I mentally scoff at them.  “Will I even feel swells on a boat this size?” I think.  “Besides, I never get seasick.  It’ll be fine…”

Day 2 – In Which Chuck gets Seasick

We hit the foul weather about two-thirds of the way through Day 1, and I get through that without any noticeable discomfort.  Then I sleep, a nice little 6-midnight doze due to being on the “night” shift (midnight – noon).  When I wake up, I’m fine.  Get dressed, fine.  Brush my teeth, feeling a little off from the toothpaste but I chalk it up to dehydration.  I grab a drink of water on the way up to the ready room.  We don’t have much to do other than hang out until theoretically we find a break in the weather and start sampling about halfway through the shift. 

Unfortunately, the ready room is two decks up from my room, so there’s that much more height to sway back and forth.  I make it about half an hour then decided I need to go to the bathroom.  I have about half a second of warning once I get out into the hallway before everything I ate yesterday reintroduces itself to my mouth.  In desperation, I try to cover it with my hand, which anyone who’s ever puked for any reason knows is always a completely futile gesture.  This just means that instantly bits of my salad from dinner are all over the hallway and all over my hand.

That’s right, first day truly out on the water and I boot all over the hallway.  I am awesome at first impressions.

Fortunately, this was just laughed off by everyone (after I cleaned it up, of course).  Usually the pattern is to sail through good weather so everyone can gradually get their sea legs, but this time we sailed right into the teeth of some major maritime grossness.  As a result, half of everyone else is also seasick.  This is cold comfort as I proceed to vomit every half hour until nothing is left, then I vomit nothing.  Finally, someone shares some dramamine, which reduces my puking time frame to once every hour. 

As of right now I haven’t ralphed since lunchtime, and my stomach is accepting bread and rice, so I think I’m through the worst of it.  Which is just as well, because mechanical issues have now reared their ugly heads and we have to steam back into port for some (hopefully) quick repairs.  Which means we’re going back through the weather.

This is balls-to-the-wall marine science, people.  Stay tuned.


  1. sladdis · February 24, 2010

    So you save all the details of your trip for your silly little 'marine science blog.'

    Sneaky, Bangley. Very sneaky.

  2. Chuck · February 24, 2010

    I try to get 'em to you via e-mail first.

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