Data, sailing, and hand saws oh my!

Wow! This is all I feel I can say to properly describe our first cruise on the Gato Verde this past week. It was absolutely incredible. We left the labs Monday morning practically chomping at the bit to get to see the Gato for the first time after hearing and reading so much about it. When we finally got there, to my surprise, the boat seemed much bigger than I thought it would be, which trust me when living with the rest of my class is a good thing. All of our weirdness would not fit into a small boat.

The Gato Verde

After getting oriented to the boat we left and motored to Sucia island where we docked for the night. But as they say life’s not about the destination, its about the journey, which didn’t fail to stand true on the trip over. We all put our rain gear on and sat on the trampoline that stretched between the two hulls of the catamaran and were absolutely soaked by oncoming waves. It’s good to know that when REI tells you your pants are waterproof, they really mean it!

One of the challenging things about living on the boat is that we have to cook our own meals and plan our cooking ahead of time. I can definitely say that my cooking abilities have exponentially increased since they were pretty much limited to frozen foods and pasta, oh and I make a mean bowl of cereal. Although, you should know that I am a bit like a 5 year old in that I dislike almost all vegetables and cooking for vegetarians means I ate a lot of vegetables. I could practically hear the 5 year old inside me throwing a temper tantrum, but I was amazed upon finding that vegetables aren’t inherently evil, they’re actually rather yummy.

Now that my brain was properly fueled we learned about all of the science equipment we would be using and have available for our projects. Staying consistent with my shopping tendencies I was instantly fascinated by the CTD which measures conductivity, temperature, and depth, and happened to be worth roughly $50,000. Needless to say every time we deployed the CTD I had a miniature heart attack anticipating everything that could go wrong. After a day of collecting data on the CTD we realized that we weren’t actually recording any data. Robin finally realized that the ring around the start button was to protect the device during transit and was actually not a stylish accessory. We removed the ring and finally got successful data uploading from the CTD to the computer. After several deployments we got the hang of it and I am excited to start taking data for my project.

Today we worked on our service project that we are required to complete for the course. We decided to work with the San Juan County Land Bank and help with Garry Oak restoration on Cady Mountain. First we learned a little history about land use in the San Juans and the transformation the islands have seen since colonization. Then we took a trip to the Cady Mountain preserve to actually work hands on with Garry Oak restoration. We were able to help cut down trees to save trees… don’t think too hard about this it made my brain hurt. Actually, we were cutting down/ trimming other trees that were out-competing the oaks for sunlight. Don’t worry, we weren’t running through the forest willy nilly cutting down trees. We had a lot of fun helping to restore a beautiful area on the island while wielding really awesome ninja hand saws. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than that.

This week we are writing our proposals for our projects and will be finalizing them by Sunday before we head back out onto the Gato on Monday for our 1 week cruise of data collection. Hopefully the whales will be more cooperative and actually be in the San Juans while we are as well. Either way it is going to be an exciting adventure complete with sailing songs, random fits of laughter, and a lot of Sriracha.

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