Back when I was in Boy Scouts, my troop would spend the better part of a week at summer camp doing Scout things. Tying square knots, whittling sticks, trying to swim, not showering. Pretty typical stuff. To spice things up a bit, my buddies and I would go down to the Trading Post in camp where they sold every type of candy and sweet thing I couldn’t get my hands on back home. It was awesome. I would trade a dollar, and whabam, I would get my favorite treat, a Choco Taco, in return. And the best part of this Trading Post was that they never ran out of Choco Tacos. My parents would give me $20 for the week and I would spend every dollar on this pseudo ice cream delicacy. You might be doing some math right now and say, “Wow, that’s like nearly 3 Choco Tacos a day,” and you know what, you’re not wrong, that math checks out.
It had been years since I had eaten a Choco Taco at summer camp so I was stoked when on the last cruise, AT38, I discovered there was virtually a limitless supply of Choco Tacos in the galley freezer. I swear it was like meeting a long lost friend or something like that. And just like old friends can pick up where they left off, I was eating at least three of those things a day, for old times’ sake. One day I ate five I think. I blacked out from all the happiness and sugar.
Among the many things I was looking forward to on this cruise, AT39, crushing tons of late night Choco Tacos was at the top of my list. So my disappointment was palpable when I discovered there were none on the boat. Zero. After a rough few days moping around responding to the ritual morning question “How did you sleep last night?” with “There aren’t any Choco Tacos on the boat, but it’s okay, I think I’ll make it, but you should probably check on me every few hours just to make sure I’m okay,” I came to terms with my new life.
And you know what, life on AT39 has been great. I’ve learned a lot from my Choco Taco experiences on the last two cruises. Importantly, I’ve discovered that the presence or absence of Choco Tacos doesn’t need to dictate my life and that I am fully okay putting a lot of chocolate syrup in my coffee instead of eating ice cream. In life you’re going to be thrown a few curveballs and you just gotta find a different sugary treat to fill in the gap.
In a lot of ways, I see many parallels between my Choco Taco enlightenment and the way the scientists on the boat have been able adapt their science to the constantly changing plans dictated by the ocean conditions we’ve experienced so far. As I write this, we have had to abandon our original plan and steam south to avoid a large storm at our northern stations. And the cool thing is that everyone is putting chocolate syrup in their coffee, metaphorically but likely physically as well. On our retreat yesterday from the storm at Station 4 back to Station 2, we were able to cruise through a super cool eddy that we all got excited about. The fluorometer was the highest it has been all cruise, the ocean temperature was jumping up and down 4 degrees C, and you could actually see the ocean go from a deep blue to a green where a bloom was occurring. And now that we are back at Station 2 we are all quite excited to see how the ocean has changed since we left it a week ago, a unique opportunity we otherwise would not have been afforded if we stuck to our original plan.
As we sit on Station 2 and prepare for the last 3 days of sciencing really hard, I wonder if my shipmates have had similar insights into the mysteries of life due to the absence of their favorite ice cream on the ship. It also has me wondering, with the calm and collected ability of our chief scientist to make the most out of the latest ocean conditions, is it possible Mike ate all the Choco Tacos?
All the best.
Written by Brian VerWey