For the past five days, Sea Dragon has been moving slowly through a dense cloud of fog, with visibility limited to less than a mile or two. We are a few hundred miles off of Newfoundland, moving over the Grand Banks in a steady northeast direction. We are in a region famous for fishing, and more dramatically, the Titanic. Though we joked about icebergs prior to the expedition, there was actually an iceberg warning issued for the region that states that icebergs are slowly and continuously moving out of the Labrador Sea. We have plotted each iceberg on our navigation charts and we are constantly on the lookout for anything suspicious on the radar, while also being very aware during our watches.
We have crossed paths with several ships and fishing boats, and yesterday a small green plane flew over us during the day. Each time, based on the little information we can gather from the AIS system, we create and share stories and theories. Was the plane a Canadian environmental agency enforcing fisheries management? Was the plane searching for a rescue? Captain Phil spoke with several of the captains from the nearby vessels, indicating that each is on a particular unique mission, some fishing, some carrying shipping containers. The fishing boat that we communicated with last night was crab fishing. We all wished they would hand off some to us for dinner. I definitely have a new understanding for the offshore fishermen lifestyle. The cold burns my gloved hands in an hour, and I am able to shift around with my watch mates to warm up. During the night shifts, our watch keeps it pretty even, each of us steering for 30 minutes, then looking out for ships for the next 30 minutes, and then watching the radar down below to warm up. We repeat this, give or take, through the 3 hour night shift. I have a feeling fishermen have longer colder nights, though I am pretty certain we are all being pretty hard core out here.
Under the cloud of fog, and beneath of the wet deck is an amazing crew of passionate ocean lovers, ready for the adventure and ready to help 5 Gyres with the mission to collect plastic pollution samples in the Viking Subpolar Gyre. The enthusiasm and generosity aboard outweighs the cold toes for sure. This morning, Genevieve was cooking lentils and rice for lunch, while Aly, Allison, and I sat in the galley. We reminisced about high school, talked about which sunscreen contained the least amount of dangerous chemicals, and had a small dance party to The Cranberries. Laughs are contagious and naturally warm us all up.
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