By Kelsey Archer Barnhill
Today was the day for the Leg 0 participants – we all finally boarded RV Sarmiento de Gamboa! After breakfast, we all met at the hotel lobby to check out. It was exciting leaving the hotel and getting some fresh air after our 10-day quarantine and we were in high spirits as we chatted while walking over to the port together. It was very exciting to see the vessel in person, which appeared larger than I expected, especially compared to the small fishing vessel in the next berth.
As I am notoriously known for my inability to pack light, I struggled to get my luggage up the gangway. Once all participants and luggage made it on board, we were told which room we would be staying in. I was happy to be paired with my friend and fellow iAtlantic Fellow, Bea.
Bea and I are really pleased with our berth, which is on the first floor. We each have our own closet, there is a desk for us to work at and – the best part – we have our own bathroom. We didn’t know we would be treated to our own suite on board!
After unpacking and settling into our room, we decided to venture around the ship. We got a bit lost at first and ended up chatting on the upper deck with two of the seabird observation team members who have already pointed out some birds to us. We were able to see the ROV and Autosub on deck and I was really surprised about the size of Autosub6000, which is much bigger than I thought it would be. Then all the scientists on board met in the ship’s main laboratory for a tour of the ship. It was great to get to see everyone from less than 2 meters apart and see their entire face!
Bea and I were really awed by the size of the different labs on board. In the main lab, there is a picture wall with photographs of the science teams on previous cruises, and it was fun to look through the pictures for familiar faces as well as imagine having our own cruise picture added to the wall soon. Our tour took us to the meeting room, library, game room, gym, and most importantly, the galley (kitchen). We were also able to see the bridge, which was very impressive – although we were all a bit nervous about accidentally hitting a button and messing up the ship! I am still quite disoriented on the ship and have already gotten lost. We have been reassured that in a few days we will know exactly which door leads where!
This afternoon we had our first meal on board. After having no choice of food during hotel quarantine it was nice to choose my own portions and have some vegetables and salad. There was also a nice selection of fruit to choose from and I’ve been told there will always be some cookies sitting out. One thing that surprised me about the ship was that the most popular aspect on board thus far seems to be the coffee makers. These were well used and nearly everyone had an espresso after their lunch. Later today we will have our orientation and safety briefing to officially kick-off Leg 0!