There and back again
Of course, a title stolen from ‘The Hobbit’ but appropriate just the same. It’s Monday afternoon and the Atlantis is once again tied up to the dock. We came in yesterday on the early morning tide and quickly began the task of ‘demobilization’ – i.e., unloading the tons of scientific gear that were set up on the Atlantis for NAAMES III. It’s remarkable how quickly all that gear can be packed, labels, offloaded, and sent to shipping when demobilization is the one thing standing between 30+ scientists and their trips home. It is a keen motivator to say the least. Only a day and a half after arriving, the labs are shockingly empty. The cramped spaces once filled with instruments, wires, tubing, sampling equipment, and myriad other widgets and gadgets are now empty spaces that echo your voice. The final tasks is sweeping and mopping and then NAAMES III is finished.
Earlier in this trip, one of our bloggers mentioned the duality of time during an ocean voyage. On one hand, exact timing is essential to successful experimentation and for keeping activities running smoothly on a very busy schedule. On the other hand, time seems to hold little meaning as the days blur together and weeks pass with little recognition. This duality is particularly pronounce when the voyage is done. The memory of untying the ship and heading out to sea is still so vivid in our minds that it is seems impossible to accept that nearly a month has passed. On the other hand, it seems equally impossible that the sum of all those endless days and sleepless nights has only amounted to a few weeks.
If you have followed this blog over the past month, I suspect you have both gained a greater appreciation for the science of the NAAMES project and enjoyed some insights on the personal experiences associated with going to sea. A temporary family is always created during these expeditions, but when it is over that family must disperse and return to their normal lives. Today, we are beginning to say our farewells, but the science we do will keep this family attached for a long time to come. NAAMES III has been a tremendous success, and that success is fully attributable to the individuals who have taken part in this adventure, both the scientists and the crew of the Atlantis. It is an amazing team. We have gone there and come back again. I will end this blog as I have during previous NAAMES campaigns in saying that it is the names of NAAMES that set this mission apart.
Written by Michael Behrenfeld