That Old Hardware

As of our arrival in Nome, I think I’d gone two years without picking up a camera that wasn’t my phone. Even in Nome, I used the phone rather than open the sea bags. I mean, I picked it up to check the battery a week before the trip, sure—but… Now I’m thinking that I haven’t shot a project since Unalaska and Kasatochi in 2016. The very idea of this sounds both obscene, and completely understandable. That was the last year I’d been to sea, even if was just an island hop—if that has anything to do with it. But I brought a camera aboard the Sikuliaq, if not the heavy redundancy of previous voyages with spares and video backs and lots of bits and pieces I never used in the Bering. At the moment, we’re getting more photographs from me than I think anyone wants to see—going on 600 approved shots in 11 days. I am afraid that’s likely a small percentage of the wear put on the shutter, but I’ll do that tally later. Safe to say, I’ve cleared 200GB already. But in a way, it works. If I need to procrastinate from typing, I go take pictures. Then I can stay up late editing, and when the night watch comes down to the lab at 8pm, they too need to be harassed by a photographer. I’ve made note I need more pictures of Phil and Celia and Bern, and Steve, and Pete. And it’s quieter at ‘night.’ The ship works 24/7, but not all work runs through till morning.

At the moment, my list of wants includes some open water in which see the use of the Tucker trawl on a single wire winch, more birds, more bears, and maybe even a proper sunset. As the days go by, twilight is deepening. It is still summer in the Arctic and there is still no real night to speak of.

Last I checked today’s a Saturday, so in the spirit of pretending we take any days off at sea, I’ll keep this brief and post a stack of flashback photographs from my very first research cruise, way back in 1995, aboard the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ prior R/V, the Alpha Helix. On that cruise, we explored the Gulf of Alaska and various glacial bays between Prince William Sound and Yakutat. So, there are sunsets, like there should be—and because we went to Yakutat, there’s a big tidewater glacier or two. So, ice and sunsets and deck ops with CTD. Somethings haven’t changed.

Don’t see me uncorking the Helix photos as cunning planning. They were on the computer because I should have shared them to the website a while back—except of course for the one picture I always share. Long hair. No hard hat. No PFD. Hands on the cold CTD cage like I could keep it steady. Those were the days, I suppose. The rest of the photos have cleaned up ‘not bad’ from the color slides and the B/W negatives. I am reminded, selecting the photographs, that we shot a lot less back then. So, times have changed too.

You can also follow the R/V Sikuliaq @rmtopp@Sikuliaqon Twitter and @toppworldon Instagram and @R/V Sikuliaq on Instagram and Facebook. To further chart the course of this August 2018 expedition, look up Arctic Winds, Fish, Fins, and Featherson Facebook.

—Thanks to the R/V Sikuliaq, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and the National Science Foundation.

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