Science Expedition: May 23rd


Thanks to Ashley Thorington-Shippey for this great photo taken in Truk Lagoon, Weno, Chuuk.

May 23 1:55 pm. 

We pushed off from the Chuuk Municipal Dock – Weno. We are on our way and so excited to be embarking on this epic journey – in the making for 5 years now.  I couldn’t believe it was finally happening!

Our plan was to leave Chuuk, then travel to the island of Satawal (in Yap state), then up the outer island chain to Yap.

Like all the best laid plans, ours quickly changed to accommodate a very special request!

The science team had to endure what seemed like hours of briefings while the lovely lagoon of Chuuk slipped under our hull. We wanted to stop and do a wreck dive, but Captain Martin thought we should push out to save time.  It turned out to be a very good idea.

Truk Master is a beautiful boat, with a great crew.  We moved into our cabins which were way too nice for a bunch of scientists like us.  We met the chef- THE most important person on a boat, especially when you’ll be on it a few days shy of a month.  The food I have to say is awesome – spicy curry (my personal favorite), chicken in a variety of delicious forms, spam (obviously), and white rice (duh).

As soon as we exited the Chuuk lagoon, we hit the inevitable Pacific swells that came at us on our beam (broadside to the boat).  This kind of wave action produces the most uncomfortable sensation as the boat rolls from side to side in the big troughs and crests of the swell.  We quickly discovered that this lovely boat – recently refurbished, had clearly spent a lot of time in the relatively sheltered lagoon, and was not totally prepared for these swells. The furniture was not secured so we all had some good rides as it slipped back and forth across the room.  The drawers were not secured either so soda bottles, gear and forks started flying around.  Computers too.  At that point we all motivated to jury rig bungees to secure the drawers and cabinets.

As we were scrambling to secure gear and furniture, deep in the fuel tanks, the (inevitable) water that had come with the (inevitable) poor quality fuel (but generally sits below it because its heavier than oil), started to mix with the fuel by the action of the waves. Only a few miles outside the lagoon the lights flickered a few times, then died as the engine sighed and shut down.  So we rolled and rolled in the waves, because boats with no forward power will almost always sit broadside to the waves. Even the best of us began to get sleepy and seasick and retired to our bunks to wait out the swells.

We were dead on the water for about 2 hours. The waves still rocked the ship but at least we were moving! During the night we lost power again, signaled by the bright emergency lights flashing in our cabins. We wallowed more while the fuel filters were cleaned.  We were assured that we would likely have to that almost every night due to the fuel issue…so we have a team of dedicated scientists trying to find a way to deactivate those lights!