Sunday, July 25, 2010

On solid ground

After finally adapting to the Kilo Moana Two-Step, the odd gait arising from the atypical rocking of the double-hulled vessel, we have traded that rhythm for dock rock, the sensation that dry land is heaving with sea swells. Our last few hours at sea did not disappoint, with sparkling views of Oahu pre-dawn lights and a submarine patrol in the harbor. We steamed into port Friday morning and unloaded most of the ship by noon, cleaning the labs, palletizing equipment, passing off samples to FedEx for prompt shipment, filling dry shippers with liquid nitrogen so they may stay cool until early next week, and dealing with chemical waste. While most of the science party lingered to tidy up final details until late afternoon, some quickly fled the scene to maximize their time exploring the island. Most of the group reconvened for a celebratory dinner before parting ways, some to fly back to their home labs early Saturday morning, some to stay on in Hawaii to see off the final shipments of samples and equipment. With every wave of partings, there were acknowledgments of the cruise's scientific gains as well as promises to maintain contact and seek future collaboration. Given the plethora of samples collected, the bulk of the science related to the cruise will happen in the coming weeks, months, and years. Although the Q-TIP cruise is over, the analysis has only just begun.

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