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San Pedro, USA

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First Impressions

Institute for Exploration / Ocean Exploration Trust

After 30 hours of traveling, one night spent in a hotel with little-bitty beds, and whirl-wind drive through downtown Marmaris, we finally get to see the E/V Nautilus for the first time. I've seen pictures of the ship while she was at sea, but never while in port. Walking toward her, from bow on, you don't get the feel for how much larger she is. However, once you get to see the E/V Nautilus from amidships... well, I can remember thinking, "she's certainly no yacht." 

So, yeah, the E/V Nautilus is bigger than I imagined. I read about her dimensions, but until you see her in port, with some scale, there is just really no way to form a good impression of her size. Then, we got to board, up the gangway onto the main deck. We walked right by the ROV Argus, past the ROV Hercules in its hanger (wow, "Herc" is a lot bigger in person too), and up the companionway to the upper deck for introductions and a quick tour of the ship. If I thought that the E/V Nautilus was big, that idea had to be readjusted somewhat when I went through the first passage.

E/V Nautilus is, well, efficiently "compact" on the inside. If you are reasonably tall, bulkheads must be entered with care. If you meet someone coming from the other direction in a passageway, it is necessary to turn sideways to one-another, unless you like bumping shoulders. And the berths? Well, let's just call them cozy. All of this is probably expected to someone who is used to ships, but I've never thought much about the "form vs function" necessary in a ship's design. For someone who is slightly claustrophobic, I'll spend as much time as I can above deck. Then I got a tour of "the van," the dive control center. I don't want to think about spending hours at a time in there just yet. It's not cozy, it's downright tight, but more on that later.

After being given enough time to explore the ship, including the manditory moment of disorientation ("Which way is the galley?"), it's time for the first all-crew meeting. This is where everyone goes through the introductions, and it gets pointed out that you're new to the ship, and have no connection with anyone on board, and that you have yet to prove yourself, and everyone can see that you're a newbie. Did I mention that I've never been on a ship before? Yeah, newbie all the way. The polite word might be "tyro" but who am I trying to kid?

Now that the meeting is over, introductions have been made, we begin our departure. The stress generated by meeting new people and trying to remember their names (you fellow introverts can relate) is replaced by the dawning excitement of the fact that we are heading out to sea. Of course, all I can now think about is whether I'm going to suffer from seasickness. Sometimes I think there is something seriously wrong with me.

Periscope through the rest of the day: lunch, swim call, overview of Educator responsibilities, safety meeting, dinner, photo opportunity, and then to work. Check-in with the Inner Space Center and prepare for six live shows with the Mystic Aquarium. It's 12:30am by the time I finally get back to my berth for the "evening." As I lay in my snug bunk and review the impressions of the day, one overriding feeling lingers with me: this is going to be a grand adventure.

But I'm still worried as to whether I'm going to get seasick.