Last week we met the R/V Thompson at its home port in Seattle at the University of Washington. Loading a ship often takes place at whatever location the cruise will begin, but this time the ship’s schedule worked to our advantage allowing us to load in the United States. Our cruise will begin in Ecuador and shipping gear and chemicals to a foreign country is a hassle with customs and a lot more expensive. We had three days at port in Seattle to load gear and set up our labs. This included unpacking and securing lab equipment, and organizing chemicals and gas tanks.
The biggest challenge during loading was finding space! The ship is huge, 275 ft long with enough room to house 50 people. But GEOTRACES is a big program, we will be collecting thousands of samples over the next two months which means we needed to make room to store and access thousands of bottles. There is also a lot of science gear on board for collecting and analyzing samples and we had to find space to store all of our empty shipping containers so we can repack gear when the cruise ends in Tahiti. In the end we found room for every last box, including 77 pallets (I’m standing next to a pallet box in the previous post, some of them fold down but a lot remain assembled to use for storage). On the morning of October 8th, the R/V Thompson left port to head for Manta, Ecuador. There are some crew members on board but the scientists will meet the ship in South America. Check out the following link to see more of the ship! http://www.ocean.washington.edu/story/RV+Thomas+G+Thompson
I give you, the mercury lab! That’s right, my work space for the next two months will be confined to the rectangular box you see being craned from a flat bed truck onto the ship. The van is operated by an organization called UNOLS which supplies equipment to oceanographers at universities in the United States.
I had some free time to explore Seattle, what a great city! Below I have come across an odd tourist attraction, the gum wall. A whole entire wall overflowing with chewed gum, and yes I made a contribution.